15 January 2003 / Leidsche Rijn
On January 15, 2003, the Danish artist Jens Haaning (Copenhagen, 1965) placed an official ANWB traffic sign reading “Afghanistan 5012 km” on a road leading from Leidsche Rijn to the nearby interchange. This destination places the new housing development Leidsche Rijn directly into a global network of cities and places that play a telling role in daily current events. Afghanistan, the country demolished after 20 years of war, provides a sharp contrast to the optimism and the pioneering spirit that the Vinex-location offers her new inhabitants. These are two very different communities under construction whose interrelatedness is expressed in distance: 5012 kilometers is relatively nearby. The work of Jens Haaning is often characterized by a form of short-circuiting between two extremes – as in Turkish Jokes (1994), where loudspeakers attached to lantern polls in a Turkish neighborhood in Oslo were broadcasting Turkish jokes. This is a project that was recreated within different contexts such as the Ethnological Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands and Documenta XI in Kassel. The traffic sign, Afghanistan 5012 km, is intended to remain for an unlimited time, whereby the sign will also start to function as a monument.
Afghanistan 5012 km can be encountered along the C. H. Letscherweg, Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht.