UN Happening
- 13.000.000. human lifes

Project/financial responsible.

Jens Galschiot

    NA01143A.gif (987 bytes) Photos from the happening. "Silent Death"  


The summit
The background of the happening
Structure of the happening
The aim of the happening
The symbols of the happening
Artists groups & info

Review of the happening (10-03-95)
Update on the progress of the happening, about peoples reaction (08-03-95)
Introduction to happening, general description (05-03-95)


In my work with sculpture and happenings I place a question mark on where our ethical and moral responsibility is going. The answer is up to the spectator; I create surreal pictures of reality - symbolically formed questions - which show the grotesque and absurd in what we normally understand as conventional reality.

The happening's form I have found a very suitable common language with the help of nonverbal symbols create the possibility for people to see and acknowledge the complicated problems comparatively on several levels, and as such can be accepted in conventional rules of what you may or may not do. But my message is not in opposition to most other artist's in fact breaking boundaries in traditional artistic sense. On the contrary you may call them 'preserving'.
They give a reasonable question mark to what consequence it will have on our culture, when we are witnesses to the racist tendencies in Europe grow.


The Summit.

The global UN-Summit will be held in Copenhagen from the 6th to the 12th of March 1995. The purpose of the summit is to discuss the world's social development. A declaration shall be drawn so that all countries can be in agreement, the following up so that all countries can be in agreement, the following three areas will be covered:

  • the fight against poverty.
  • Increased employment
  • Increased social integration.

About 10.000 are expected to participate in the summit, with many government leaders including. To run parallel with the summit, 10.000 representatives from the world's non-state and humanity organizations. The so called N.G.O. organizations, meet at Holmen in Copenhagen for an alternative summit - N.G.O. forum 95'. N.G.O.- forum will draw up an alternative Copenhagen-declaration and their presence will put pressure on the official conference to take decisions. The humanitarian organizations can give there opinions for a better world.
These two gigantic events mean that the whole world attention in these weeks summit will be directed to the globes social question - and to Copenhagen.

Background for the Happening.

Every other second a child dies of hunger or lack of medicine. What all these children have in common is that the most are colored and live in the worlds poorest countries. In this weeks summit there will be 210.000 children's deaths. In our part of the world we just accept this.

I'm unagreeable to this. When I decided to carry out my next Happening at the U.N. Summit from the 6th to the 12th of march 1995, it is not just because of a wish to visualize the global imbalance.

It is my intention to make the top officials not forget why they are gathered. It is also my wish that the soft seats, the tidbits, the red carpet, and "wonderful Copenhagen's" as a media event, a glossy promotion of Copenhagen as a very suitable place to hold a conference in, will not forget our responsibility and capability to deal with the problems of the Third World. Try to imagine how it smells in Rwanda's refugee camps, how it feel when the cold of the night penetrates through the cardboard which is a street child's bed in Lima or Rio, or how you feel as a mother or father, when you have buried three children in a row, because there was no food for them to survive.

Structure of the Happening

750 child figures, and 13.000.000 "Bank notes".
750 child figures with the form of three to nine year old children with arms stretched over their heads, locked tight onto lamp posts, signs, benches, fences etc. on the 6ïth of march, in the center of Copenhagen. On the 12ïth of march the summits declarations will be finally signed. The child figures are collected and laid in a large stack.
The child figures will clearly show the unbearable likeness of a dead child.
This means that the summit has happened in a city where parts of the street picture are dominated of symbolic dying children. The 750 children are made by sewing a child's silhouette in canvas and afterwards, filled with 20 tons ( crushed brick the color of red sand used normally on tennis courts). These figures will be a type of floppy doll with the large resemblance to dead people.

there will be produced 13 million "bank notes" each one being the value of humans life in 1995. The bank notes are in the form of monopoly bank notes and have different motives printed, that have relation to the crooked distribution of the worlds wealth, primarily in the form of drawings of starving children. Over this will be printed a caption describing the worlds, disparity. For example the developed world has 25% of the earth's population, but owns 85% of the worlds economy. In addition there is a request not to throw the bank notes away, and also a smaller caption to explain the happening. The bank notes are printed in Danish on one side and English on the other, with my E-mail address and my fax number.
For the background is pictured some of the worlds strongest currencies.

The bank notes are distributed throughout the week in the schools of Copenhagen, where at the same time we have asked the teachers to discuss the worlds social problems with the children, at the institutions, in churches, museums, in businesses, places of work, and of course the places concerning the conference.
The bank notes are given out in buildings (not in the street). For example it is obvious to give out bank notes in special places e.g. -Tivoli. There are 60 different types of bank notes, so it becomes a challenge to collect them. This will make people more interested in looking closely at the bank notes they receive.

The 13.000.000 bank notes represent a life, that has vanished in the unjustifiable distribution of the worlds economy in 1995. The distribution of the bank notes means that Copenhagen in a very discrete way, will be dominated by the most innocent victims of the way we have chosen to organize the world.


The aim of the Happening.

I wish to break the barriers between the rich and the poor world for a short period, to confront the people on the street with the picture of the third worlds dying children. This sudden manifestation of reality, I believe, will get a good part of the population to participate in the debate on how we organize the world. And at the same time the Happening shall be a signal to the third world that some are concerned, and place a question mark on how the world is organized.

The happening shall show the problems:

That the rich western world's ethical and religious discussions about life being sacred (e.g. the discussions of abortion) go on in the same world where millions of people die as a result of lack of the most basic nesseseties of life. You might get the thought that only life of the rich ones is sacred.

That the planet as a result of improved systems of communication and transport has become so "small" that it is about to develop into one unit which contains so colossal contrasts that it risks to be ruined by internal tensions.

That the west, instead of the Berlin-wall that should have divided the the red and white, is about to build a new "Berlin-wall" this time to keep the poor out of the rich world.

that the summit's decisions-making, in reality influences how many people will die. In other words that it is a choice we make when we let some be rich and others poor.

The symbols of the happening.

After the summit the "banknotes" have been distributed in many places, the child figures have been placed in a stack as a symbol of yet another conference, but maintain the urgent question:
If we in the rich world are willing to radically change the organization of the world in order to make it more just.
The symbolic of the Happening is in this way expressed on more levels:

That the child figures are dark symbolize that it is principally coloured children that die.

13 million "bank-notes" that signify human life, are given out in the city, symbolizing that a human life belonging to a poor child of an undeveloped country, might not be worth more than the easily dissolvable paper which the "bank-note" is made of. that we treat life life whit the same off-hand manner, with which we will sweep up the notes and throw them away.

750 "dead" children that are suddenly hanging, in the center of a wealthy European city, will symbolize the danger, that the globe will experience destroying conflicts because of the unfair conditions that two thirds of the world live under.


As the happenings are being carried out, we have created a group that will represent the happening at the N.G.O - conference, (the alternative part of the official summit) What we are doing during the UN. Happening, is partly to establish AIDOH (Art in defense of humanism), a network we will later use in connections with " the Pillar of Shame - the happening".

Here is a more detailed description of these activities.


The creation of an international network, that at first shall be used to carry out Jens Galschiøt Christophersen's next happening " the Pillar of Shame ". " the Pillar of Shame " shall be chosen on the basics of individual events, and only a maximum of 3 times yearly so not to devalue the happening meaning. The placing will occur relatively quickly after the event, and so it is therefore necessary to have a global network of people, that will help and support the happening.

The creation of a card index:

Activists that will help with organizing, translations, transport, setting up and production of " the Pillar of Shame " etc.

Press and lobby people that are interested in getting information and can support the happening both officially and unofficially.

Economic support this means to project relevant support with sponsoring, transport or to buy a "support sculpture" or direct contribution.

This network can be used in the future be to support other art activists, but in the first instant people can give there written support for the Pillar of Shame happening. Possible addresses can be given out, after written application from each person in the network.


Registration of artists who make or wish to make activities, where they use their art to support humanity in the world. This can be in all areas; literature, sculpture, paintings, film music, dance etc., and the methods can be completely different. The registration shall be used to inform, support and inspire each others and to network with interested people.



There will be a possibility for different artists, to have their exhibition and information areas in the computer. If you want to have an "electronic exhibition" in AIDOH's host, send us an E-mail about your work, and well answer you, within the next 10 days.

redball.gif (924 bytes)A list of sponsors
redball.gif (924 bytes)The economy of  the happening

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1995: The Silent Death - a happening at the UN Social Summit, Copenhagen
Additional Information:
Categories: 1995: The Silent Death - a happening at the UN Social Summit, Copenhagen | Happenings and Art Installations
Sculptures: UN Happening
Type: Concepts
Dates: March 1995
Locations: Copenhagen, Denmark
Co-operators and Helpers: Kulturministeriet | Københavns Kommune | UN Social Summit
Partners: Krakagården | Kulturfabrikken | Social Forum
Sponsors: 1. Majfonden | BUPL | Dansk Socialrådgiverforening | DSB | Ergoterapeut foreningen | Fredsfonden | Funch Fonden | Fællesklubben KUC | Galleri Asbæk | IBM | K-Salat | KAD og SID's Medie og Kulturfond | Lille Skolernes Landsforbund | Lysgaard Fonden | Odense Litograferne ApS | Pædagogisk Medhjælper Forbund | Scenetjenesten og Erhvervstræningsskolen i Odense | Socialpædagogernes Landsforbund / National Federation of Social Educators | Svanholm Gods | Sømændenes Forbund | Søren Gericke | Team-Teateret | Ulla og Sofus Christophersen