Shake it off

Dave Killion — November 11, 2011


I recently came across this image, having not seen it since 2009, when it was installed near the famous Little Mermaid sculpture in the city harbour of Copenhagen during the climate conference. It was called ‘Survival of the Fattest’, and came with an inscription –

I’m sitting on the back of a man.
He is sinking under the burden.
I would do anything to help him.
Except stepping down from his back.

At the time of the installation, artist Jens Galschiot said the piece symbolized the unwillingness of the West to scale back its consumptive way of life. However,  Jesse Walker discussed the piece for Reason in December 2009, and points out the piece was originally conceived as a protest against the industrial world’s hesitation to walk the walk on its free-trade rhetoric.

I can’t give the piece high marks for subtlety, but the artist is right that there is one group of people hampering another. In my mind, I think of this piece as ‘The Burden of the State’.

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