Sam Durant 'Scaffold'

part of 'See You in The Hague'

Location: President Kennedylaan 5, The Hague
(opposite entrance Omniversum)
20 October 2013 - 7 December 2014
Booklet on Scaffold by Sam Durant:
download pdf

Part of See You in The Hague

Photos opening and concert: click here
Photos installation in progress: click here

Scaffold, a sculpture by the American artist Sam Durant, was one of the major attractions of dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel Germany last year. Like an oversized children's jungle gym it stood on the intersection of the symmetrical lanes of the baroque Karlsaue Park. People who climbed the steep staircases had a magnificent view of the surrounding area and also noticed that the floor was made up of different levels. Scaffold is a combination of reconstructed wooden gallows (or scaffolds as they were once called) that were used in executions of significance throughout U.S. history, from abolitionist John Brown in 1859 to Saddam Hussein in 2006.
The presence of institutes that are concerned with justice and security were the reason behind the decision of Sam Durant and Stroom Den Haag to rebuild Scaffold in The Hague, in the International Zone of the city. In concurrence with the program See You in The Hague the work will be literally activated as a platform for discussion about the death penalty, democracy, national administration of justice and international criminal law. A public program will turn Scaffold into a platform for discussion and reflection.
As far as public executions are concerned the city of The Hague has a long tradition. In 1619 Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was beheaded on the Binnenhof and in 1672 the brothers De Witt were publicly lynched and cut into pieces on the ‘Groene Zoodje' (near the Gevangenpoort). Constantijn Huygens vehemently detested the latter scaffold and considered it an eyesore desecrating the heart of the city. In his essay The Green Green Grass of Home P.C. Spierenburg - Professor of Criminology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam - brings up an unsuspected connection between the scaffold in The Hague and the contemporary use of weapons by the United States of America. In his view 17th-century painting contributed greatly to the sacralization of the execution. The presence of Scaffold at last year's dOCUMENTA (13) and currently in the International Zone of The Hague is proof that this sacralization is an ungoing process.
Scaffold fits in perfectly with a Stroom tradition of realizing major permanent and temporary artworks in The Hague's public space, like The Celestial Vault by James Turrell, Park in the Water by Vito Acconci and Dunepark by Cyprien Gaillard. In addition there is also a close link with the group exhibition Since we last spoke about monuments (2009), that looked at the contemporary monument from the viewpoint of complicated historical events.

On and around Scaffold various activities were organized in collaboration with e.g. Amnesty International Nederland, Haags Pop Centrum, Royal Academy of Art The Hague, het Nationale Toneel / Orde van de Dag.

Sunday 20 October 2013, 3 pm
Opening + Concert Murder Songs
Opening by Eduard Nazarski (director Amnesty International Nederland) + pop concert Murder Songs on Scaffold i.c.w. Haags Pop Centrum.

Monday 21 October 2013, 3 pm
Lecture by Sam Durant and criminologist Pieter Spierenburg
Part of Studium Generale Program KABK.
Entrance free.
Location: Royal Academy of Art The Hague, Prinsessegracht 4, The Hague.

Thursday 22 May 2014, 20-22 hrs
Florian Göttke: Burning Images - Hanging Dissent + Taf Hassam: Some Cruel & Unusual Records

Lecture and presentations.

Saturday 6 September 2014
Hangen & wurgen
on Scaffold

Museumnacht Den Haag

Especially for Museumnacht Den Haag Stroom Den Haag, het Nationale Toneel and de Orde van de Dag will present Hangen & wurgen: theater and music, on top of the scaffold.
Three performances of half an hour each.

Sunday 19 October 2014, 13-17 hrs
Peace & Justice Songs on Scaffold
Performances on Scaffold by bands from The Hague during the Haagse Pop Week 2014. Sequel to Murder Songs on Scaffold that took place on 20 October 2013.

Scaffold is a reconstruction of multiple gallows used in executions of historical significance in the United States. A chronological list of the gallows. For list of scaffolds plus pictures: see article in Mr. Motley (6 October 2013).
John Brown (1859)
Convicted of treason and murder while attempting to start an uprising against slavery.
Mankato Gallows (1863)
On which thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hung in the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
Lincoln Conspirators (1865)
Among those convicted of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln was the first woman executed in the U.S.
Haymarket Martyrs (1886)
Four anarchist organisers convicted of a bombing during May Day demonstrations for the eight-hour workday.
Rainey Bethea (1936)
Executed in the last legally conducted public hanging in the U.S.; Bethea was an African-American man convicted of raping a white woman.
Billy Bailey (1996)
The last person executed by hanging in the U.S.
Saddam Hussein (2006)
The inclusion of this gallows raises the question of the scope and reach of U.S. history.

Links by Sam Durant to Death Penalty and Prison activist organizations: click here

The program See You in The Hague is an initiative of Stroom Den Haag and is made possible in part by Mondriaan Fund, DOEN foundation, Stichting Stokroos, the Creative Industries Fund NL, vFonds (Nationaal Fonds voor Vrede, Vrijheid en Veteranenzorg) and the City of The Hague.

Design See You in The Hague: Autobahn

Work by Sam Durant was previously on view at Stroom in the exhibition Since we last spoke about monuments (2008).

Website Sam Durant, 2020
The Art Newspaper, 23 February 2018
3voor12, 20 October 2014, 4 December 2013 (in Dutch)
Knack Focus, 4 December 2013 (in Dutch)
Strange Messenger blog, 27 October 2013
VPRO De Avonden (radio), 24 oktober 2013
Trouw, 21 October 2013 (in Dutch)
AD Haagsche Courant, 21 oktober 2013 (in Dutch)
AD Haagsche Courant, 19 October 2013 (in Dutch)
Den Haag Centraal, 18 October 2013 (in Dutch)
de Volkskrant, 18 October 2013 (in Dutch)
Blikvangen, 18 October 2013 (in Dutch)
Mister Motley, 6 October 2013
Mr. Motley, 6 October 2013

Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', 2013
photo: © Sander Heezen
Poster: opening Sam Durant 'Scaffold'
photo: © Sam Durant (graphic design: Autobahn)
Sam Durant 'Scaffold' by night (2014)
photo: © Johan van Gemert
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', 2013
photo: © Sander Heezen
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', The Hague, 2013
photo: © Eric de Vries, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', The Hague, 2013
photo: © Eric de Vries, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', installation in progress in The Hague
photo: © Eric de Vries, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', The Hague, 2013
photo: © Eric de Vries, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', The Hague, 2013
photo: © Eric de Vries, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', The Hague, 2013
photo: © Eric de Vries, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', The Hague, 2013
photo: © Eric de Vries, courtesy Stroom Den Haag
Sam Durant, 'Scaffold', commissioned and produced by dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, 2012
photo: Stroom Den Haag
See You in The Hague
photo: graphic design: Autobahn