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Detail from "A Shelter for my brother", bronze



A shelter for my brother

Collaborative work / bronze / text (2013)


That is my little brother's hand, the little boy says. His name is Allan. In front of us there are seventeen casted children’s hands and I have made a thorough system to keep track of which hand is whose. No, I say, this is Liana’s hand. That is my little brother’s hand. No that is Liana’s hand, her name is written here.


He is six years old and looks me straight in the eyes. The otherwise wild children around us turn silent. But I have made a system here, you see, I declare, with all the names, look. But his eyes make me hesitate. That’s my little brother’s hand, he says. I’m just about to say that it is Liana’s hand when he turns over his shoulder. On a silent signal a little boy detaches from the play on the other side of the yard and runs towards us. When he arrives the little brother seems to already know what the controversy is about, for he holds out his clenched fist. His big brother looks me in the eyes. That is my little brother’s hand, he says. The little brother, who hasn’t spoken a word, holds his tiny fist beside the fist plaster. Everyone sees immediately that it is the same hand. You are right, I say, forgive me. And the chaos starts again with new casts and plaster all over.


A month later all the children in our group are going to visit me in a foundry where I work. The group consists of seven year olds and those who will turn seven. …and Allan’s little brother comes along too, says the social worker. No, I say, he is only five. You know, the social worker say, it doesn’t work like that. Allan doesn’t go anywhere without his brother. Allan has one single person in his life, and I argued with him when he told me the cast was his brothers. Allan speaks in English to me. He tells me that he can speak Russian, Latvian and Romany too. His little brother doesn’t speak in any language. They seem to communicate telepathically, as if they were one, as if his little brother’s casted hand also was his own. Allan is building a hut, a place where you are desired, a small world where you can make the rules yourself.

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