Et in Arcadia Ego (Ook ik was in Arcadië)
If you hang over the quay wall of the Hofvijver near the Gevangenpoort, you can catch a glimpse of it. Just above the pond, you can see water flowing out of the quay wall. Above it, carved in stone, in Roman letters, is a text: 'Et in Arcadia Ego' (I, too, was in Arcadia). Who made this poetic water threshold? And especially why?
In 1992, visual artist Krijn Giezen was commissioned to investigate the status of the historic Haagse Beek. This water stream originates in the Schapenatjesduin dune in Kijkduin and flows from there to the city centre to flow into the Hofvijver. At least, that is what happened until the nineteenth century. By 1990, there was hardly anything left of it. Giezen proposed to make the Haagse Beek visible again. For this purpose, he invited three artists, including Ian Hamilton Finlay.
This Scottish poet, writer, artist and gardener enjoys international fame with his garden: 'Little Sparta' in South Scotland. As early as 1966, the poet had his first 'one-word poems' carved into stone and then placed in his garden as a kind of commentary on the landscape and at the same time as a place for reflection. Little Sparta' has become an ideal fusion of word, image, philosophy and landscape.
Finlay's work for The Hague also reflects this fusion of disciplines. He wanted to make the end of the Haagse Beek visible again. He had the water that flows from the water threshold pumped up especially for the purpose. The text reminds us that the Haagse Beek once ran through a paradisiacal landscape. That Arcadia has since been swallowed up by the city. The text, the material in which it has been carved (bluestone as in monuments) and the typeface chosen (usually reserved for monuments) cause Finlay to contemplate it involuntarily.
Stonemason: Peter Coates