Verstoppertje (Hide and seek)
Zuidwal, Den Haag
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You can just barely hear her counting out loud. But the girl with the ponytail does encourage the children at the Zuidwal primary school to play hide-and-seek as well. And that was exactly the intention. Ram Katzir is the creator of the counting girl against the bluish cloud tree. A little further on is the other part of his interactive installation: a Muslim girl peering at her playmate from behind a large tree.
The sculptures are matched to the existing schoolyard. The old tree behind which the Muslim girl is hiding and the grid around it already existed. The dimensions of the two girls are based on the height of schoolchildren: lifelike, in other words. The stylised design and, of course, the special bluish colour give the installation a dreamy quality. That is not for nothing. For Katzir, this sculpture is not only a sweetly playful object, but also a reference to an ideal image: a society in which no real distinction is made in origin or religion, a world without racial hatred.
The Dutch/Israeli artist Katzir enjoys international renown for sculptures that are as seductive as they are confrontational: a caged tree ('Amnestree', 2004, Maarssen), stone suitcases left seemingly careless on the street ('Baggage': Jewish monument, 2010, Leiden) and an enormous arch with giant, shining bullets ('Bullet', 2011, Utrecht). Wrapped in beauty, Katzir often presents a hard message.
That the way we look at reality has more to do with our background than with reality is an important starting point for this sculptor. In that context it is interesting to know that a version of the sculpture in The Hague also exists in Haïfa (Israel). There the Muslim girl is standing by a sawn-off olive tree. This is a good reflection of the insecurity of the Palestinians. In this environment, the sculpture is much more politically charged than in the schoolyard.