Day 3: Ceci n’est pas de l’amour*

By Sofie Henningsen

Day3 foto 1 bredt

Today’s show in the display box does not cause the same ‘traffic jam’ in the shopping street as it did the day before. Some people continue walking, while others stop to take a closer look. When the shutters go up not only one person but to persons are in this tall but very narrow glass box together. A man with a little girl on his lap is sitting on a chair reading the fairy tales of H.C Andersen to her. They are dressed in nothing but their underwear.

An elderly lady is shaking her head as she walks away from the box. A Danish family says “what’s up with him?!” and a couple of Danish women state “this is very controversial”. What seems to disturb people the most is the fact, that the man and the girl are stripped down to their underwear. A Philippian woman explains, that she does not like it, because they weare so little clothes. In the Philippines they struggle with incest as well as in many other countries. For her it would be different if it were the mother and a child in this situation. There are many other ways to show affection for a father. This is not preferable way in her opinion. A couple of young girls walk by without stopping:” I don’t want to read it, this is too gross

Two women from a nursing home arrive in a bicycle taxi -a voluntary initiative for people in nursing homes. Their spirits are high as they joke with their driver and look at the persons in the glass box. As well as yesterday many people take their time to read the text of today’s installation: “It is a performance about that men should be aloud to show affection to their children”.

Especially the men are expressing themselves today. A man and his wife are staying long to discuss the installation and to take pictures. He is a kindergarten teacher, he tells. He thinks it is an important issue. From his point of view it must be difficult for men to choose to work as kindergarten teachers nowadays, because of the intense focus on male kindergarten teachers behaviour towards the children. In the 70s it was okay to hug a child, when he or she cried. “Now you have to watch your back “. His wife finds the image a bit provocative – she gets the wrong associations, she tells. An elderly man with his wife is happy to see that this topic is taken up to debate. As a child he never sat on his father’s lap, except for one time, when a family photo was taken. He enjoyed every minute. He finds it naturally to hug his children and grand children. A dad with his little girl is explaining to her what is going on. The daughter is a bit worried, that the girl in the box might not be able to get out. Her father reads the text and tells her, that there is nothing to worry about. It seems to help. A Dutch couple of guys are a bit uncomfortable with what they see: ”This country is way too free-thinking”, he is joking…or maybe it was not a joke.

By the end of the day the crowd has more or less left the display box. When the shutters go up for the last time in the evening, the man and the child are lying still at the floor next to each other. The book has fallen to the floor, so has his glasses and the chair has tipped over. This image immediately attracts a big crowd: “And this was supposed to be art?! This is absurd, gross…is it a real child?”. The shutters go down.


Ceci n’est pas de l’amour*

By touching a person’s bare skin, signals are sent to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls emotions. Children need this physical contact in order to become attached to their educators. Fathers are more restrained than they were in the 80’s and 90’s concerning public display of affection towards their children.

There is an increased consciousness that touching can also activate sexual feelings, or be perceived as such by the outside world. Physical contact between women and children, on the other hand, is often seen as reassuring.

* This is not love

Ceci n’est pas de l’amour*

Ved at røre en persons nøgne hud sendes signaler til cerebellum, den del af hjernen, der kontrollerer følelser. Børn har brug for fysisk kontakt for at opnå tilknytning til dem, der opfostrer dem. Fædre er i dag mere tilbageholdende end i 80’erne og 90’erne i forhold til offentligt at vise ømhed over for deres børn.

Der er en øget bevidsthed om, at berøring kan aktivere seksuelle følelser, eller om at det kan tolkes således af omverdenen. Fysisk kontakt mellem kvinder og børn ses derimod ofte som et udtryk for omsorg.

* Dette er ikke kærlighed

READ MORE about the Metropolis Festival and the artist Dries Verhoeven’s concept of “Ceci n’est pas” in this background article or on Københavns Internationale Teaters webpage.  Also check out the newspaper articles in Berlingske and Politiken