Ian Hamilton Finlay

Wall of the quay of the Hofvijver on the side of the Gevangenpoort

The water of the Haagse Beek, which flows from the dunes through The Hague into the city center, falls over a water threshold into the Hofvijver (transl.: Court Pond). A broad limestone plaque was applied above the mouth of the water. It has a Latin text carved in stone: Et in Arcada Ego, which translates as: I too have been in paradise. This sentence holds the key to the oeuvre of Scottish artists Ian Hamilton Finlay and can be interpretated in many ways. The text refers to both the longing for the happiness that was lost with the expulsion from paradise, and the opposite pole of life that is present everywhere: even in Arcadia am I (Death) present.

Ian Hamilton Finlay, 'Et in Arcadia Ego', 1998-present
photo: Rob Kollaard, courtesy Stroom Den Haag