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Why Does Jan Hakon Erichsen Risk His Life To Destroy His Art?

The Norwegian visual artist and art destroyer, Jan Hakon Erichsen, (born June 23, 1978) currently living in Oslo, with his two children and girlfriend. Mostly famous for his experimental destruction videos via “Instagram” (which he began in late 2017), regardless of how creative he gets, it is complicated to look away from one of his videos. While other social media creatives may use expensive film equipment, all Erichsen did was have fun, filming his experience with his handy phone. With the D.I.Y (do it yourself) aesthetics (like found and seemingly random objects), several years were spent perfecting his craft and now, he posts one video a day on “Instagram.” Commonly, his videos depict the method of popping balloons, wearing odd hats made from food, destroying household items, and crushing dry pasta and taco shells.

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Untitled.” ©. April 2, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Untitled.” ©. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

From 1998 to 2000, Jan was a student at “Asker Kunstfagskole.” In 2000, he attended “Oslo National Academy of the Arts” and in 2004, graduated, working as an artist ever since. For someone mostly known for compelling destruction videos, he has participated in numerous international video festivals and has widely exhibited in Norwegian and International galleries. 2019 was when Erichsen made a 2-minute compilation of balloon popping videos and the video went viral on “Twitter,” which is an accomplishment that he does not seem to boast about. In 24 hours, the video made 9.5 million views and received numerous likes and retweets. In 2020, he was nominated for a “Shorty Award” for “Best in Weird.”

Untitled.” ©. August 14, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

He is influenced by Chris Burden, who risked his life creating art. The seriousness of Chris risking his life just to create works of art inspired him to have the same chaotic energy. Other influences of his are punk rock, horror films, and 1960s and 1970s performance art. How does punk rock and horror movies inspire Jan to create? According to “The Politic, (which is a Yale college journal) when Erichsen was interviewed, he said, “I think of destruction as the dark side of creativity and I’ve always been drawn to it. It’s like punk rock or horror movies in a sense.” He simply loves dark humor.

Untitled.” ©. Feb. 15, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Who in their right mind would enjoy watching works of art being destroyed? The same audience fond of watching monster trucks, action movies, and parodies, just may be interested in keeping their eyes locked on the artist. Why would he go through so much time to create his own art and destroy it for the viewers entertainment? That is a mixture of sad comedy, yet exquisite at the same time. Some of his brief videos may remind you of spoiled YouTubers squandering an awful amount of money on comestibles and gifts, just to partake in hilarious challenges. Maybe you think about hilarious “Epic Fail Videos” on “YouTube” from watching Erichsen’s videos. Perhaps, the television personality, Steve-O, may cross your mind when you view Erichsen destroying his work.

Untitled.” ©. April 4, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

By the time Jan presses the record button, he has a clear idea of what he will do to his readily watched work, but like life, what is planned, may have a different outcome. In one of his videos, he proved why his work can be dangerous, suffering from a freak accident. While preparing for one of his “Furniture Aerobics” videos, he actually fell into a knife sculpture. The sculpture he fell on (mounted on his old photograph) has nearly 100 knives, which protrudes through the surface. Afterwards, he needed 25 stitches and it is ultimately a relief.

The videos are complicated to look away from and after realizing the artist must have a balloon fetish, you may feel like you do as well. There is not too many people who detest balloons, but the loud popping noise, the rubber, or reminders that clowns love balloons, may keep others away. It is like how society is addicted to people getting hurt and wondering what may happen next in a video. In one video, aluminum foil is used as a mask and is also wrapped around his feet (like winklepickers that elves wear), but a keen knife is extended out on the tip of both shoes. When Jan pop the balloons with the knives, maybe some viewers thought about a gladiator coming back from dead, just to be in a parody.

The most harm caused to himself during making art resulted in minor scratches and bruises. In an interview with “Vice,” Jan said, “I try not to rush into things and always test the more dangerous contraptions thoroughly before filming.”

If you would like to stay updated with Jan Hakon Erichsen’s work, you can follow him on his social media accounts:





Work Cites:

Janerichsen. Instagram. “Jan Hakon Erichsen.”. 2021.

Erichsen, Jan Hakon. “Jane Hakon Erichsen.”. 2021.

Bellah, Andrew. The Politic. “Interview with Jan Hakon Erichsen, Norwegian Artist.”.

Erichsen, Jan Hakon Facebook. Jan Hakon Erichsen. . 2021.

richsen, Jan. Patreon. “Jan Erichsen.” . 2021.

Emmanuel, Felton. BuzzFeed News. “That Guy Who Went Viral For Popping Balloons With Knives Just Had A Bad Accident.” . 2, Apr. 2020.

Guido, Giulia. "The Performing Art of Jan Hakon Erichsen Aka Balloon Destroyer.” . 2019.

Allen, Shane. Populist Magazine. “INTERVIEW // Jan Erichsen.” 15, Feb, 2021.

Ward, Amelia. LADbible. “Knife-Balloon Artist's Creation Has Turned Against Him.”. 4. Apr. 2020.


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