suggestion box

Artist Creates Suggestion Box For the Universe, Hundreds of Responses Reveal Sad State of the World

The world is in a sorry state these days. We’ve all looked around lately and thought, “WTF, universe? Is this the best you could do?” And then we’ve imagined all the tweaks we’d make if we controlled the way life works.

Well, one artist in Montreal wanted to give an outlet for those kinds of thoughts, and he did so by posting a suggestion box for the universe in his neighborhood earlier this spring.

“Box for wishes/suggestions for the universe. All topics accepted,” reads the hand-scribbled text on the metal box attached to a fence.

Every night, the 38-year-old artist known only as François opens the box with an electric drill and empties the messages under the cover of darkness.

“It stays anonymous, kind of a mystery. So, people don’t address a person, they really address the box,” he told NPR. “People had things they needed to express. And I wanted to offer them a different way to express them than on social media or the press […] where they wouldn’t be read right away and commented on by everybody.”

François says people mostly write about love, followed by work, education, or financial concerns. Health and the pandemic are also recurring themes.

A few examples of notes that the box has received:

“I hope to find my dream job, that reflects my values, before October.”

“That Jason learns by heart his addition subtraction, multiplication and division.”

“No more pollution. No more COVID-19.”

Some of the suggestions are so heartfelt, you can’t help but feel bad for whoever wrote them – people looking for an apartment with “cool roommates” or a reprieve from depression or (wipes tear away) friends.

The box is currently posted on private property, so it’s possible it will just disappear one day. Until then, François will continue to collect, read, and save the notes. He has around 300 so far.

“I think that the first step in realizing our wishes is to be able to name them,” he says. “So just the fact that someone can reflect and define something clearly enough to write it down on a piece of paper, that’s maybe the first step towards something more concrete.”

Cover Photo: Emma Jacobs/NCPR

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