Art can be unexpected, harmonic, new, shocking, disturbing, beautiful or just great. There is art for the majority and art for a minority. Art that becomes art just because some popular gallery decide that a work is good, or more recently, because social media proclaim an artist is trendy or cool. There are works that deserve to be called Art because they provoke a feeling in the observer and there are others that inexplicably become art. The last ones can be displayed in some public spaces thanks to nepotistic decisions from a city hall or ministry. Or maybe just thanks to the dreadful taste of a powerful person at the decision making board who forces the rest of citizens to endure unsettling visions every day in their ways to work. We can even suspect that there may be some kind of sadistic revenge on society hidden behind the intentions of the group of people deciding to display certain pieces on the streets of our cities.
I am lucky enough to have travelled a lot in my life. I have been in very different places across all main continents and I must say I have never seen something like this before. I explain myself; you can be unlucky enough to stumble upon an ugly sculpture at a certain moment in any given city, but the case of The Hague is a real case-to-study-one. There is not only one horrid sculpture in front of a building at the finance district of a city but a 15 minutes ‘walk corridor of Horror!
Grote Markstraat is the main shopping street right at the heart of the city of The Hague. Thousands of people walk up and down the street every day, especially in the weekends. It is around one kilometre long where the most popular chain stores offer their last fashion trends at both sides of the street. There has been a face lift in the last years and some new buildings have replaced former ones which were not in a good condition any more. These new buildings are quite respectable and have improved very much the final architectural ensemble of the site.
But what for me is still an absolute mystery is why they keep this long corridor of monstrosities. It is not just a handful of them but a sequence of more than 30 pieces that change over a certain period of time. Not all of them are replaced by new ones, some have been there since the beginning of this project.
The Sculpture Gallery of P. Strucyken. is a gallery of sculptures, placed on pedestals, placed every 25 meters in the pedestrian area of the Grote Markstraat, Kalvermarkt and Spui. Forty Dutch sculptors have been or will be invited to produce a sculpture for this area. Struycken introduced the pedestal because it creates a bond, both literally and figuratively, between the urban environment and sculpture. As each artist is required to conform to the same dimensions, visual coherence is maintained within the diversity of solutions on an urban scale.
It is unsettling to think that these sculptures are the works of different artists. I would seriously like to meet the jury who chooses the works. If there is a jury at all. I am not a fan of referendums but I consider this may be a good cause to throw to the polls. If the sculptures eventually chosen would still be horrendous we would know at least they had been chosen by the citizens of The Hague and we could finally proclaim that good taste is dead.
I am starting to believe in the theory that this may be part of a conspiracy from some communist group in order to keep people away from the shops, with the intention of finally overcome Capitalism.
I have never seen a single person taking a picture in front of one of these sculptures. Moreover, people looked at me in amazement when they saw me taking pictures for this article.
Here you can see some examples, many of them I wish they were Ninots to be burnt at the Crema in the Fallas of Valencia
There are many others on display but I made a selection for this blog post. I apologise in advance to the artists that have created these sculptures: it was not my intention to attack them in any way and I cannot judge their talent only by looking at these works. Some of them may have other outstanding works out there that I am not aware of. Maybe they enjoy big success in their lives and they would laugh at my lack of artistic criteria. I leave it up to you people to decide.
The truth is that I had a lot of fun writing this entry.
Featured image: Testa di Medusa; Caravaggio