Schenkkade, Den Haag
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Strange. On the Schenkkade, near the Siemens building, there is no ordinary light at night. It is blue. A closer look reveals that the ordinary pavement tiles have been abruptly replaced by stelcom plates and that the posts separating the carriageway from the cycle path have suddenly been replaced by an elegant iron railing. The asphalt itself makes a slight wave motion.
As abruptly as the material changes, they also stop after 301 steps. The footpath, lane and cycle path remain the same, but the experience is totally different. Only the steel plate on the central reservation reveals that this is a work of art. It reads: '301 steps (daylight/tungsten)'. This title refers to the length of the strip and to the use of daylight and artificial light. Tungsten' means artificial light and is found on every old-fashioned roll of film.
When this strip of no man's land that connects the centre with the suburbs had to be redesigned, the municipality and Stroom commissioned the artists Jan van Grunsven and Arno van der Mark. In their work, both of them display an idiosyncratic vision of the relationship between art and its surroundings. Moreover, they had already worked together before (Rietveld exhibition, 1992, Centraal Museum Utrecht).
Their proposal for the Schenk strip is based on their observation that it is a border area: also in width. In order to reinforce the contrast in that direction, the Schenk Brook, the separation between the offices and Bezuidenhout, became an ecozone.
With very different means, but still within the usual programme requirements, Van Grunsven and Van der Mark were able to achieve a totally different layout of the public space with '301 STEPS'. As a result, and because they were involved in the redesign right from the start, '301 STEPS' is so well integrated that it is hardly noticeable as a work of art. The art has become the public space itself.