Scaffold: an architectural perspective on the death penalty in The Hague

by Fiana Gantheret


The wooden installation by the American artist Sam Durant looks like a gigantic children’s play structure and stands on the grass next to the International Zone in The Hague, The Netherlands. The sign at the bottom of the stairs is daunting: “Access at your own risk – Children under guidance only – Beware of slippery and protruding parts – Do not climb”. A large metallic staircase located on one side of the installation brings the visitor to a wooden floor made up of several levels.

Each level is composed of a reconstructed wooden gallow that was used in an execution “of historical significance in the United States”, one can read on a sign visible on the platform. The announcement at the bottom of the installation, the “protruding parts”, the slippery stairs… seems to have a meaning : one cannot approach – let alone access – a scaffold without risk and roughness being involved.


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