A Whale Sculpture Catches a Crashed Train

It’s an extraordinary tail.

In November 2020, a metro train slammed through stop-blocks at the De Akkers station in Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam, but was miraculously saved from plummeting 10m (30ft) by the protruding tail of a fortuitously positioned plastic whale sculpture.

Had Dutch architect Maarten Struijs’s 2002 work depicting a pair of whale tails, forever flapping from the water, not been there to catch it, the front carriages of the train would likely have collapsed.

Photos of the near catastrophe, which captured the train’s absurd suspension in air, went viral and brought to mind Belgian artist Rene Magritte’s surreal vision of a locomotive smashing through a fireplace – its jutting engine levitating bizarrely in the domestic space of someone’s dining room.

Though the artist entitled the work La Durée poignardée (or, literally, Ongoing Time Stabbed By a Dagger), the 1938 painting, which seemed a meditation on the mysteries of life’s elapse, quickly became known as Time Transfixed – a feeling, no doubt, with which the driver of the Dutch metro train can intimately relate.

Credit: Robin Utrecht

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