The device pictured above is a cannon that was built to use pressurized air to fire coconuts. The coconut cannon, designed by the artist Julian Charrière, was intended to be unveiled in Antarctica, where Charriére hoped to use it “to highlight the importance of international demilitarization agreements, such as the 1959 Antarctic Treaty that suspends sovereign claims, reserving the continent for peaceful scientific inquiry,” as he explained recently to Artnet.
But a possible misfire earlier this month has scuttled those plans, after German police confiscated the cannon in Berlin following a close call with a coconut and a dog walker, police said recently on their Facebook page.
There was, initially, some question as to what happened. Artnet reported on March 10 that the one-ton cannon had been confiscated for no obvious reason during a raid in the “early hours” on March 2, while Charriére was away in New York City. Around a week later, police said why: the previous day, a man walking a dog had heard a bang before seeing something—possibly a coconut—fly past him.
The cannon was to make its debut later this month at the Antarctic Biennale, but for now it is in the hands of German police, as they investigate whether its existence violates any laws.
Charriére’s exhibition in Antarctica will now likely be a “documentation of the confiscation,” according to Artnet.