ESSAY / The ceiling height has suddenly become dangerously low – it is taboo to talk about terror.


The planes came. The roads are coming. The people came.

The big road ruined my move.

My Temple and Grandfather Rabbit's Home.

I cursed the planes over my head,

cursed them and shot after them.

But my rifle shots didn't make it.

Explosives were more effective.

I am a sensitive person.
Many who know me do not understand

why I could do as I did,

since I'm so sensitive.

The kind of person who would never hurt anyone.

But the one who doesn't understand my actions

has never been sufficiently angry, never felt sufficiently resentful.

Never been sufficiently angry long enough.

Never known this anger.

I'm not crazy.

I just wanted to be at peace.

Then the author Ahmet Altan first arrested and imprisoned Turkey in 2016, it was on the basis that he had come up with a "subliminal message" in connection with the so-called coup attempt. What the subliminal message should have been, he never got clarity in. The charge was suddenly replaced with having participated in the coup attempt. When he asked the judge where it had been from the original charge, used to apprehend him was the reply that "the police lawyers like to use words they do not understand".

Is this art project criminal?

For twelve days he had been incarcerated because the police lawyer "liked to use words he did not understand".

In the book I will never see the world again > (Samlaget, 2019) tells Altan that he got two judges. He was first convicted as an "Islamist coup maker", ten days after as a "Marxist terrorist". The sentence was for life imprisonment.

I notice the words "subliminal message" and "terrorist". Behind them I question.

When I was twelve I read the book about Robinson Crusoe.

After that, I always had a desire to move to a deserted island

or at least to a deserted place. I'll never forget that book and this: How a forgotten grain in his pocket turned into a field.

A grain in his pocket.

Then you put it in the soil. It grows. Becomes an axis. With several grains.

Then you also put these grains in the soil. How many axes do you get? Soon a whole field.

A whole field.

All you need is a grain. And a deserted place to put the grain.

Afterwards slyears you field with a scythe.

Then you make flour. Then bread.

Så easy it is.

Death does not come with laughter.

Death comes with a cordless lawnmower,

whether you choose a wireless robotic lawnmower and not a scythe,
the robot will eventually kill you.

Not the scythe.

I say, the industrial revolution

and its consequences

has been a disaster for humanity.

A disaster I say.

Terrorist is an unprotected title. Apparently, anyone is free to use the term of a person they want to get rid of or get killed, imprisoned or at best cursed. What a terrorist is, or proof that one is, seems less important. Locals, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, democracy advocates and artists all over the world are increasingly labeled as terrorists. Having (taking) defining power on who is a terrorist gives real power.

Then the conservative Norwegian journal Minerva through a variety of articles claimed that with my performing arts project Death does not come with laughter wanted to incite terror, they must have been fully aware of what they were doing. Journalists know well how effective the connection between the word terror and a personal name is.

The conservative Norwegian magazine Minerva stated that with my performing arts project I wanted to encourage terror.

Democratic countries are quickly labeled as suspicious through such a link. I was "just" hung out. In less free lands, one can be sentenced to life imprisonment, as in Altan's case. In other countries one can be killed.

Minerva was soon followed by the liberal think tank Civita, in a junk criticism of the project. Junk because none of them had seen my performance. "Death does not lie" is admittedly about the terrorist Ted Kaczynski, but is far from a call to act like him. Was I and my project pre-convicted because my alleged terrorist message appeared "subliminal"?

Photo: Camilla Jensen
Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Una Bomber.

Had this been in Turkey, I could, like Altan, sit in now, after the allegations that I should have called for terror, glorified terror. Possibly the charges would have started in the same place: That I should have delivered a subliminal message?

The free word must be fought for. Always.

History tells us that, contemporary shows us.

Understanding the effectiveness of the terror / incitement charge should make journalists in democratic countries extra cautious in making such allegations. That this also happens in Norway, and not in countries like Israel, Iran or Turkey. gives cause for unrest.

In my case, one of Minerva's journalists also chose to ask the Norwegian Cultural Council about the "legality" of providing support for my project. The question was implicitly asked: Is this art project criminal?

Ossavy Death 8001 © camilla Jensen 2019
Ossavy: Death… © camilla Jensen 2019

We recognize such actions from countries with very difficult conditions for the free press and the free arts. Display venues are closed, art is censored, granting authorities stop giving money – because, after loose claims, artists allegedly "support terror."

Death does not come with laughter is based on Ted Kaczynski's terrorist acts in the United States. When it comes to Kaczynski, there is no doubt that he was a terrorist. The message he conveyed was not subliminal. He took action and sent letter bombs to people he considered responsible for the development of the technological community, on the grounds that it harmed nature.

Why make a notion of a terrorist? Because through a subliminal message, I would encourage terror? Or because I think one of the tasks of art is to investigate problematic and challenging topics?

I'm not crazy.
But I killed three people.

A president of the forestry industry.

A head of public relations agency Burson Marsteller.

An owner of a computer shop.

I hurt 23.

I wanted to hit people who worked with or developed technology.

I also tried to blow up a plane.

I fail,

the bomb detonated, but it was not the explosion I had planned.

The plane made an emergency landing and 12 of the passengers suffered smoke injuries.


The twelve are included in the list of the 23 I injured.

In hindsight I am glad I did not succeed.

I assumed the plane would be full of business people.

And it probably would.

But that it oso would be a kid there.

I didn't think so.

Minerva's cultural editor finally came to see Death does not come with laughter at a special screening in downtown Oslo, with subsequent in-depth talk about "the dangerous art".

Her conclusion was that this was not at all a performance that wanted to glorify terror. I am grateful that she came. But why didn't the debate begin there – to see the work?

I myself have acknowledged from the reactions around the notion that it is taboo to talk about terror, especially if you do not first emphasize that you are "against terror". Only having a "leading terrorist" would be to encourage terror, according to one of Civita's criticisms. Then the ceiling height has become dangerously low.

© Camilla Jensen 2019

What is terror? What is terrorism? Who has the power to define who is the terrorist?

The word "terrorist" has been dropped for content, but is still a weapon so powerful that it gives the right to kill without trial, without evidence.

When Turkey attacks the Kurds after labeling them terrorists, the attacking state is guilty of gross violation of the international rules that actually apply in war. We have to ask ourselves: Who are the terrorists? Is "terrorist" at all a term with content anymore?

The art of not becoming a terrorist is to try to understand what creates one.

I will continue with that.

One evening I lay down on the ground,

I dont know why,

why do you lie down on the ground one evening?

I was well on my way into the cabin with something, but stopped on the way in and let myself down to the ground just because.

I don't know why, but I let myself down.

I was lying first on your back for a while.
Looked at the sky and the clouds.

Lots of wind in the trees. A lot of speed in the clouds.

Soft moss under me.

Couldn't I just lie there? Smelled me full.

Dry moss does not smell like wet.

Wet moss has osmotic properties,
the odor diffuses through the cell membrane,

into the holiest, the mitochondria,
the very power plants in the body.
The smells of moss are like a spark,
from the mitochondria, power rises
n into the body.

Some call it heavenly.
But I'm not religious, far from it,

These are physical facts.

I'm a mathematician.
But I got tired of learning engineering math

to be used for å harm nature.

I would see the rising moon without the false light from the city. Feel the shock of early spring splashing through the body.

Know that now the snow is gone.
Put away the heavy winter shoes.

Far beyond hills.

Find wild onions and dandelions.

Sleep out one night if you like.

Know the freedom.

The text in italics is taken from Death does not come with laughter, by Nina Ossavy. This is an excerpt from Ossavy's essay in the book When the art is terrorized. About terror as a theme in art, edited by Helle Merete Blix, Caspar Nesager and Lars Vilks.


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