As It Happens

Norwegian balloon-popping artist falls onto sculpture made of 100 knives

A Norwegian artist who gained viral internet fame for popping balloons using various contraptions rigged with sharp blades had an unfortunate mishap with a knife sculpture over the weekend. 

'I’m an idiot who leaves life-threatening items standing around,' says Jan Erichsen 

Performance artist Jan Erichsen was about to start a live video of himself walking across a ladder contraption in his studio when he plunged head and hand first into a knife sculpture. (Submitted by Jan Erichsen)


A Norwegian artist who gained viral internet fame for popping balloons using various contraptions rigged with sharp blades had an unfortunate mishap with a knife sculpture.

Jan Erichsen said he was making a "furniture aerobics video" last week and was "balancing on something sketchy" when he fell onto a frame full of knives. 

"I'm an idiot who leaves life-threatening items standing around," Erichsen said in a tweet. 

The artist has since received 25 stitches and had surgery on his left hand because he couldn't "really move my little finger."

Erichsen had severed his nerve and tendon. "But I'm so lucky this didn't end worse than this," he said.

The accident was ironic because he had recently stopped using knives in videos in an effort to avoid accidents during the pandemic, he said. 

He told As It Happens host Carol Off that his hand is "healing nicely" and that it wasn't "hurting too bad." Here is part of their conversation. 

What were you doing when you fell into a bunch of knives?

I was making a video for my Instagram. I was planning to walk over a small bridge I had made out of a ladder, a stool and a step ladder.

It's a series I call furniture aerobics [where] I try to use the furniture around us in unconventional ways. 

That sounds dangerous enough. What was it that you fell into?

Yeah, that's slightly worse. 

I had made a knife sculpture where I had taken one of my old photos and around 100 knives and ran through it. So [there were] 100 knives, standing on my windowsill, pointing in my direction when I was balancing on my homemade bridge. 

So, yeah, I wasn't too smart.

How did you land into the knives? 

I was leaning forward and falling with my hands and head towards the knife sculpture. 

Luckily, my hands were in front of my head, mostly. So I just got two small cuts on my face, but my hands took a lot of the weight.

It was terrible. I was quite panicky after that. It was not good.

Obviously had to go to the hospital with that one?

Yeah. I had to get the ambulance. 

I had like five minutes where I was running around my studio trying to stop the bleeding and thinking: 'OK, my studio is quite close to the ER. If I can just get it bandaged up, I can go down myself.' 

[But] it was impossible. I was bleeding from both hands. I called my girlfriend and she convinced me to call the ER. Apparently I fainted when I [arrived at] the hospital.

Did you feel at all bad about showing up to hospital in the middle of a pandemic?   

I felt so bad about the whole thing. I [usually] work with knives in my videos. But I haven't done that for months because of the whole coronavirus situation. I was really trying not to have an accident.   

And then, of course, I fell into some because I had just left them around. I know it's so stupid.

Luckily here in Norway, we have handled this situation quite well so the hospitals aren't under that much pressure yet. 

I have been looking online at some of your past work with knives and I couldn't stop watching. It's just the number of times you come so close to stabbing yourself. You wear knives and try to puncture balloons or you wear balloons and try to run into knives. So don't you think that perhaps an accident was destined to happen? 

I didn't feel like it before because I felt I had control over the situation.

And I mean, it looks really dangerous, but every time I actually used knives I try things out several times before I put it on camera. I really try to do things safely. It looks really dangerous on tape, but no, it's not dangerous. 

But this accident puts everything in a different light, obviously. Yeah, I think my knife era is over. I think I'm going to do other things.

Written by Adam Jacobson. Interview produced by Kate Cornick. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

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