Day 4: Ceci n’est pas le futur

By Louise Kaare Jacobsen


Photo: Maja Nydal Eriksen

Ceci n’est pas le futur

At 12.00 the shutters open on day 4 in the glass box. “Uuh”. A woman jumps back as she makes a squeaky sound. She looks up and sees a young boy – or girl, some people seem to think – sitting on top of a pile of bullet cases. He picks them up one after one and starts to polish them. They are empty. So is the gun he picks up and starts to clean. It is obvious that the boy is very young even if a balaclava covers his face, except for the eyes and the mouth.

“Look”, the woman grabs the sleeve of a man in her company. “Haha, did someone put in a coin to make the shutters go up”, he jokes. The other man joins in. “What if we put in another coin? Do you think we’ll make the whole thing explode?”

A crowd quickly gathers around the glass cabinet. They read the sign carefully, look up at the boy, then they read again. It’s a rather silent crowd today. They stay long, but the discussions are short and confused. “What is this?”, “It’s something about security. Or war.”, “It must be a protest of some kind”. Then they stop talking and look. The young boys discuss what kind of bullets are on display.

When the boy in the box makes eye contact with someone from the crowd, they turn around and walk a few steps away. “He’s freaking me out”, “He has scary eyes”, they comment. When he looks away, or when the shutters go down, they come back to read the sign in silence.

A group of 13-14 year old dark-haired and dark-skinned boys stop in front of the box. The boy in the box makes eye contact with one of them. And he holds it. The other boy looks at his friends. “What the fuck is he up to? What does he want from me? He’s fucking weird”. They agree that the boy is making a fool out of himself and that it’s a waste of time to look at him. They start to walk. One of the guys yells, “Hey, I forgot to read the sign”. They all go back and read in silence. After a while they leave. An hour later they come back. They look at the boy for a couple of minutes. Make eye contact again. Again they agree that it’s a waste of time and leave.

A mother comes by with her children in her cargo bike. “What’s this, mummy?”, “Mummy, what’s this?”. All three keep asking. The mother takes her time to read. And think. She has a festival brochure in the bike. She explains that it’s a piece of art and that it will be here for ten days with 10 different people inside the box. The boy, who’s around 8 years old, says “I hope it’s not me who has to go inside the box tomorrow”. The mother starts to explain about the bullet cases and the gun. She asks, “Children, do you ever think about war? Are you ever afraid that we will have war in Denmark?”. “Could that happen?”, they ask with big eyes. She tells them that we can’t know for sure that it won’t, but it doesn’t look like it. We have good friends all over the world. “Like USA”, the youngest girl adds.

USA is a common point of reference today. A lot of people interpreting the text refer to the Americans. “The sign says that we should be careful not to create a gun culture like in The States”. A woman explains what the sign says to her friend. The other woman replies, “Well, hunters kill animals, not people. So what if they have firearms? This is completely exaggerated”. The friend rereads the text aloud while following the words with her finger: “However, the estimated number of private firearms is 1 million…”. She looks at her friend and adds, “I wonder how many people run around with a gun in Christiania?”. The friend laughs, “Haha, let’s just stay away from there. And from The States”.

Two men start talking. “Do you know what this is?”, the youngest ask. The other man explains that he has been passing by the other days as well. He really liked the content and the message the other days, but today it’s too much. “So I called the police”. “Good idea”, the other man says. “It must be really toxic to sit in there with all the empty bullet cases. And he’s clearly too young to be allowed to work. The police needs to see this”.

Two other men are also concerned about the working conditions for the young boy. “What I really don’t like is that he has to sit in there all day. That’s really not okay”. “I refuse to stand here and look at this”, a woman adds in a harsh tone. Most children are concerned about how he will get out of the box. One boy wonders if more and more bullet cases will fill up the box during the day and in the end drown him. A lot of people see the whole installation as a protest against child labour.

A young girl spells her way through the word school shootings. “Mum, what’s that?”. “It’s something they have had in The States. And in Finland. But hey, you don’t need to worry about that. They won’t find their way to a small school in Haslund”.

The sound from the box is the multiplied metallic sound of bullet cases falling on each other. And a clock – or a bomb – ticking. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Time is running. Towards the future. And who knows what it will bring?

Ceci n’est pas le futur*

The term “security” is of great importance in the Danish society. The amount spent on insurances has increased 25% in the past 10 years. Children and adults wear bike helmets. When talking about armed forces one prefers to use the word defense. Membership of organisations such as NATO and the UN has led the population to believe that peace will be maintained.

In the past 15 years, an increasing number of Danes have acquired a personal firearm. 200.000 Danes have a hunting license. However, the estimated number of private firearms is 1 million. There have to this day not been any Danish school shootings.

*This is not the future


Ceci n’est pas le futur*

Begrebet sikkerhed har stor betydning i det danske samfund. Det beløb, der årligt bruges på forsikringer, er steget med 25% de seneste 10 år. Børn og voksne bærer cykelhjelm. Når vi taler om væbnede styrker, foretrækker vi at benytte ordet forsvar. Medlemskab af organisationer som NATO og FN giver befolkningen en idé om, at freden vil blive bevaret.

Gennem de seneste 15 år har et stigende antal danskere erhvervet sig et personligt skydevåben. 200.000 danskere har jagttegn. Dog er det estimerede antal skydevåben i landet 1 million. Der har til dato ikke været nogen skoleskyderier i Danmark.

*Dette er ikke fremtiden