18:45 on a zebra

A decoy for enjoying art
This is the first piece of art I remember enjoying. Several times a year my parents visited the Big City to buy things they couldn’t in their own town. Once or twice a year they brought me to fit me with new clothes, and when we returned to the train station this big clock would greet us. When you but glanced in it’s direction, it would viciously grabyour attention and whence it had it, the clock would attempt confuse you: where did one face start, where did the other end?

It also told the time.

Later on, in my puberty I scorned modern art. Let me rephrase: in my puberty I disdained modern art. This object, however, silently stayed exempt from my disdain. Looking back at myself this probably was  because I thought an object with a practical function was allowed to have a shape. In reality, of course, the time keeping function was just a decoy from it’s actual goal, which was to lure the innocent into appreciating art for it’s own beauty.

Back to reality
The square this clock is on is desolate. The building it has as a backdrop is an active insult to the city, spitting it in the face with its’ black shadow. Somewhere in the seventies this  dawned on the municipality and the railroad company. They started a competition for a Big Clock that would remain Well Readable from Large Distances. The competition  was entered by a guy that with his design sought to break the pattern of the “backdrop consisting of a expressionless static building,  a square riddled with a forest of steel poles for trains and lighting and many, many parked cars.” This blurb apparently went well with the jury, as the guy won, but they couldn’t have been immune to the stunning design either.

Factoid section
In July 1977 the city officially started to use the clock. It burned down in December of the same year, was resurrected in 1988, was moved out of sight in 1997 (when the rebuild of the station area started) and to the city dump in 2001. The city council demanded, to have it back by the end of 2010 after the renovation of the square was done. Despite the alderman’s promise, in august 2011 the end of 2010 hasn’t come yet. He has an excuse though, as on the clock time is not running either.

These are all in Dutch, I’m afraid, but there’s links to Google translations as well:
– Summarized history of The Hague CS (translation)
– An article from the The Hague municipal website, that can only be found on an external news bank (translation)
– The alderman’s promise (translation)

Who was the guy and what’s the zebra doing in your title?
The guy is one Jaap Karman (translation).
You’d only ask why the zebra is in the title when the picture didn’t load, I guess. Hit refresh in your browser (which is good for my statistics ego as well). If you still don’t see it, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do to help you.

The zebra clock with Den Haag CS as a backdrop

Update january 2, 2012: It doesn’t seem the renovation of the square is done yet. The  insulting building is still there (with uglyfying for rent signs on top of it) . However, the zebra clock is back!



About Gooi Weg

Always travels with something on his head, and a camera in his pocket. Successful loser.
This entry was posted in photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 18:45 on a zebra

  1. Pingback: Toys. No, wait … | Throwaway weekly

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