Yesterday I saw a funny post asking where the payphone that Maroon 5 kept singing about was, since no one uses pay phones now-a-days. Well, perhaps Maroon 5 were in The Hague. Because on the corner of Eisenhowerlaan and Statenplein in the middle of a small grassy patch stands a lone phone booth.
This phone booth is no ordinary phone booth – its red and blue colouring with bold white letters spelling out “alarm – brand – politie” (alarm – fire – police) indicate that it is an emergency phone booth that had been used in the past to call for the emergency services. But that isn’t what makes it unusual. No, it is the contents inside that make it unique.
A glimpse through the window will reveal a large bronze bust of Josef Stalin, a frilly pink side lamp and a plastic herring all on top of a red velvet covered pedestal.
What is Josef Stalin doing in an emergency phone booth in The Hague and why does he have a plastic fish with him, I’m sure you are wondering. I was too.
The bust of Mr. Stalin was the first public art sculpture created by the Russian-born American conceptual art duo – Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid – in 1986.
The piece of art, created by invitation of The Hague Gemeente Museum, originally used to stand in the red light district of The Hague. There, his admirers would place a fresh herring in his booth each day.
Now-a-days Stalin has a new home, ironically very near the museum that was partially responsible for his existence, and his daily offering has been reduced to the plastic variety. He appears very lonely, and if the cobwebs inside are anything to go by, I’m guessing that fish hasn’t just been delivered.
So if you are in the area, please stop by and say hello to Stalin. Maybe even take him a fish but at the very least snap your photo with him and send it in so that we know he isn’t so lonely anymore.