'Min Indre Svinehund' ('My Inner Beast') - Atlas Obscura

'Min Indre Svinehund' ('My Inner Beast')

Frederikssund, Denmark

This striking pig statue was part of a 1993 guerilla art project against racism. 


In November 1993, a series of unauthorized statues of menacing pigs, dressed in overcoats and standing upright like humans, mysteriously appeared overnight in prominent locations in 20 major cities across Western Europe.

Dubbed My Inner Beast, Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt had made the clandestinely installed sculptures under the pseudonym Cogito (Latin for “I think”). According to Galschiøt, the sculptures symbolized humanity’s darkest instincts. Galschiøt hoped to prompt cities, such as Oslo, Zurich, Barcelona, and others, to confront violence, racism, and prejudice against minorities. This unexpected international initiative sparked debates in political circles and media.

Ten years later, Galschiøt sought to trace the fate of his donated porcine figures scattered across the continent. Many had been relegated to storage rooms. Some were destroyed. In France, all three disappeared without a trace. The sculpture in Bonn, Germany, though had a more fortunate outcome, eventually securing a permanent installation spot.

The pig sculpture was a nod to the Danish colloquial term svinehund, closely resembling the German schweinehund, which both combine “swine” with “hound.” In Denmark and German-speaking countries, this expression can be used to criticize people for their beastly behavior. Nevertheless, in other parts of Europe, where pigs aren’t traditionally associated with negativity, this led to misconceptions.

Galschiøt’s former hometown, Frederikssund, Denmark, wasn’t among the sites of the pan-European guerrilla art installation in 1993. However, in 2002, in response to enthusiastic locals’ requests, the municipality officially unveiled a permanent bronze replica of the native artist’s pig statue, now with the Danish title Min indre svinehund, outside the town’s cultural center.

An inscription on the base beneath the 7.5-foot-tall (2.3 meters) dark figure warns that the “swine-hound” represents the latent inner beast within every human. If fed, it can fuel xenophobia and, in rare cases, even take power over an entire population.

Know Before You Go

The statue, available around the clock, is situated just outside the Elværket Cultural Center, a 10-minute stroll from the local S-train station in Frederikssund. It takes approximately 50 minutes to reach this final northwest-bound stop on the C and H lines from Copenhagen.

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