Esbjerg and the layperson’s Mount Rushmore

The manifold joys of recently watching early noughties Danish cop drama Unit One (Rejseholdet in Danish) have included watching Mads Mikkelsen on the inexorable rise to stardom (but doing it on his own Danish terms) and the showcasing of individual locations in Denmark in each particular episode. There’s something formulaic yet varied and enjoyable about this format, not least because it draws attention to monuments and vistas which might have completely bypassed the non-Danish viewer otherwise.

Particularly attractive in this respect is an episode set in Esbjerg which offers an impressive shot of an impressive monument, the Mennesket ved Havet work by Svend Viig Hansen. I like to think of it as a layperson’s Mount Rushmore: it makes use of a humanoid quartet but the four individuals could be anyone, not just a suite of statesmen. It is Scandi elegant egalitarianism wrought large, not least because the figures are both imposing and graceful, lending them a certain androgyny (it’s worth noting that menneske translates as both man and human). For my part I would cast them as four nautical types: ship’s cook, shipbroker, dock warehouse guard and fisherman seem as good as any identities.


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