Model House
(Waltersdorf bei Schönefeld, Germany)

In the flatlands of rural southern Brandenburg, on the possible journey to or from Tropical Islands, Groß Köris, the abandoned Löpten airstrip, or any other regional point of interest, one might happen upon or recognize a fading former settlement in the midst of transition. Found easiest at a bicyclist's pace, just off the western edge of autobahn highway Europastraße 36, it is a site lightly marked for slow future activity, composed of barren field and swamp, of the abandoned and the not yet operational. It is a location difficult to access, as it rests quietly wedged and secluded between a newly paved interstate highway, a high-speed rail line, and—as well—a handful of technical buildings of varying degrees. On inquiry with any of the local inhabitants that might turn up in the vicinity (they are very rare these days), one will certainly only receive a standard shrug of the shoulders, along with a muttering of dissatisfaction.

And then, upon arrival, doesn't one street within this small settlement even resemble a full-size stage set for a modern-day television program? From a distance it appears to replicate a residential neighborhood street from somewhere in the U.S. suburbs, perhaps from the flatlands region of the Midwest and Great Plains, an area whose surroundings consist of never-ending fields of grain and corn.

This phantom zone, seemingly in the midst of both destruction and construction, even has a grand sign, a billboard of sorts, announcing its location. When it is finalized (if that ever happens) perhaps it will be a residential community for local security guards or air traffic controllers working at the 2 adjacent airfields. Or maybe it will solely become a "test area" for billboard specialists and set designers—a three-dimensional calling card, created in order to promote their new company.

Recently, a local bird watcher—and self-proclaimed expert of the area— announced his opinion that it will surely become a sex trade, entertainment village of some sort: simply a way for long distance autobahn drivers, or other passing businessmen, to temporarily live out a simulation of their suburban sexual fantasies. "And wouldn't the location in the vicinity of two airports not also fit my theory well?!" he quietly muttered, while walking away in conversation.

With this theory in mind, it is important to note the activity surrounding one of the street's residential model homes, built possibly to promote the coming village. In and around the short driveway of a gray stucco, one-story house, with storm shudders lowered at most times of the day, it has recently been possible to observe a small gathering of young women, most likely in their mid to late 20s, congregating near a 2011 Porsche Cayenne Platinum Edition, with (nearby) Berlin license plates. The driver and his friend, as well as the group of young females, appeared to be of mixed northern Asian decent, with features ranging most likely from Mongolia or Xinjiang, to even perhaps Kyrgyzstan. With the rest of the street completely abandoned, except for this house, and the attire of the women leaning in a quite seductive direction, the atmosphere does tend to give traction to the bird watcher's story. However, in brief discussion with one of the unusually tall and fashionable young women from the group—dressed exquisitely in a black silk Acne Studios, Cocoon Shift dress, shimmering golden sneakers and a forearm's worth of abstract tattoos—it was explained in somewhat broken English that they were only there for a few more days, in order to finish shooting a fashion & art magazine article for a new (and unnamed) Chinese publication. An inspirational plot for the article was said to (quite oddly) revolve around both European real-estate corruption and Paul Schrader's cult film Cat People. When questioned, the elegant young woman even delighted in offering a leisurely paced, personal guided tour of their temporary home, which on the inside seemed to directly mimic the Peter Saville designed artwork from Pulp's 1998 album "This is Hardcore", with a sparkling black and chrome kitchen, a living room with thick shag carpeting and a high-end Naim stereo system with accompanying Bowers & Wilkins speakers. Dark wood-paneled hallways led through soft lighting, past tastefully designed mirror-covered bedrooms and bathrooms. Along the tour, various young women—appearing undifferentiated to be perhaps both the models and assisting crew—lounged casually on various soft leather sofas and luxurious designer furniture throughout. Some of the women appeared to be resting or asleep, while others whispered quietly amongst themselves, or read to each other from a variety of magazines and books. Later on along the tour, film equipment was seen while walking past the garage, with mostly male technicians chatting quietly around a half empty bottle of Nikka whiskey. Upon passing by, the door accessing the garage was quietly closed shut. The setting balanced itself out delicately between an atmosphere of very high-end, luxury tourism and that of a film set found in Hollywood or Hong Kong.

Later, over coffee at the adjacent airport's taxi-stand snack bar, the area-expert frustratingly threw up his arms in a fit, claiming duplicity. "They have been describing this alleged 'magazine article' for months!", he loudly announced to his surroundings, certain that these activities were clearly a ruse of some kind, conjured up in order to distract from other future plans.

Spending any amount of time with the local expert will also bring into discussion the nearby, and casually labeled "dog training yard", a small fenced arena supposedly used by airport security teams in the district. Although appearing to be no more than an unused private garden, the low-security metal-fenced arena, about 50 square meters in size, also contains a flat, horizontal, inground concrete doorway emulating those doorways built during the cold war—entranceways leading to underground nuclear-safe, fallout shelters, to be entered at the last instance, just after the beginning of a third world war. And why does the expert have such interest in this garden? When confronted or questioned, he has no real reason, other than to vaguely question the fashion crew's use of the area, having observed what he referred to as "strange picnics" and so-called "photo shoots" involving groups of young women bound in handcuffs and other bondage devices, practicing mysterious, seemingly violent and erotic acts with each other.

In addition, he would then also firmly state his distrust in the local security teams, declaring them to be "no goods, vagabonds, and imbeciles", or sometimes quite simply "idiots and fools". In brief discussion with the expert's other local acquaintances and discussion partners, regarding these concerns, there was a unanimous consensus that beyond this passionate diatribe, there is most likely no real substance to his fears. The construction and transitional situation for this triangle of trapped land is surely not so sinister as believed to be, by the bird watcher. And in this regard, the main dramatic highlight of the phantom traffic zone might only be the frantic at times, irrational bird watcher's subtle rants and gesticulations, in an area that is—outside of the temporary activities of the Asian fashion crew—otherwise devoid of almost any other human activity.

In relation, it should be noted that any effort to communicate with the self-described arch-nemesis of the bird watcher—the security team present in the adjacent airfield area—will as well almost certainly fall on deaf ears. After constant rebuke from the area-expert, a definite weariness has set in amongst all members of the team, leading any attempt to converse, and/or find explanations for the many nuances and discrepancies of the area to—at this point in time—inevitably fail to materialize into any meaningful discussion.


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