A story about the tram

Tram 3006: Kitsch with a capital K

Kitsch, but: responsible kitsch, that is how the Hague artist Pien Hazenberg describes the project she worked on with great effort for the last two months. On Wednesday her work will be revealed. Quite literately; the tram painted by her, the eight year old 3006, will be wrapped up and brought to the city centre. After the old lady is finished turning heads during the European Festivities she will get back in the saddle riding as a “regular” tram for the next couple of years on line 8.

No-one will ever think the tram will be regular, however. Even though people from The Hague may be used to some alternative looking busses, the new trams have always been red and yellow. There are no more plans to paint other trams like Pien Hazenberg’s. Not even plans made by herself: “No, this is not something that should be repeated”, says the artist, who has seen a 20 year long dream come true when getting the assignment from the HTM (Hague Tram Company) to celebrate the companies’ 125th anniversary, “although I used to imagine more abstract paintings”.

The 3006 is far from abstract, quite to the contrary even. The 33 meters stretching sides of the tram are flaunted with very recognizable depictions; on the one side, the boarding side, we see a lot of images with pain and hardship, on the long continuous side we see heavenly scenes. Not surprisingly Hazenberg has received many enthusiastic reactions from the HTM-personnel at the remise, where she completed her work. Hazenberg, who usually works in a grayish, sober abstract way, smiles: “They tell me : finally something one can understand!”

Trend

Naturally there is a catch: it doesn’t matter how Baroque the paintings may seem, in reality Hazenberg aims at the new trend of the avant-garde, for whom kitsch is no longer despicable, but essential. Where, until recently, no self respecting artist would ever get involved in something so low and condemnable, artists now embrace the ‘beauty of the eyesore: competently made kitsch.

Aimed at themes of the baroque and neo-classicism it is painted with luscious varnish on big surfaces, on itself not an easy feat. Luckily Pien Hazenberg could count on the help from the HTM employees; nevertheless she has worked a minimum of 14 hours a day the last couple of weeks. Then consider the tram had already been put in a primer by the HTM employees; a 300 hour job.

Now all we can do is pray that the result will not be lost, in Gods’ and the vandals will.

A story about the tram

Little angles

The Hague may be sparkling, as it’s slogan claims, apparently sparkling art cannot be expected from the HTM (Hague Tram Company), the former unhappy owner of a riding piece of art. The vehicle was painted with little Baroque angles and showed everybody how the company loved the arts. What happened?

The tram repeatedly received damage from passing gates. The artist who painted the tram didn’t mind so much. She offered, to repaint the angles regularly, she had grown to love them, as can be expected from an artist. It wouldn’t have to cost a thing and that is telling, in these days of sponsoring.

But the 'men upstairs' at the tram-industries ruled otherwise. The vehicle was to be stripped clean and repainted in the original pale yellow color. Out of sight, out of mind, they must have thought . But on the other hand : say goodbye to a piece of art, say goodbye to the happy little angles. Can you simply do such a thing? A plain tram can be painted over, but the angles tram was meant as a wink to the fine arts, a display for the identity of The Hague. Stripped naked and repainted. That is how far the sparkling of our royal city reaches, apparently, unless perhaps if you keep believing in the stork (The Hague’s icon)

A cartoon about the tram

“I really don’t understand all this fuss over The Night Watch being damaged, just slab some paint on it and you’re done!”