The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Brendan Lott presents … Safer at Home

Ever since the world died, I’ve been sitting by my window with my camera and a long lens, looking. Often for hours at a time. The building across the street is teeming with life. As it should be in a major metropolitan area. And all those people have nothing to do either. So I sit and look and shoot. Month after month. This is 2020. I’ve made about 150 images I like in this manner. I want to share 26 of them with you. It’s a mix of bodies, emotions, decor, tone, feeling.

I hope the people in these photos understand and see the beauty in these. I’ve tried to respect them as much as possible, considering I’m kind of invading their personal space. The only way to get truly candid moments is through secrecy. Me in my apartment behind a black curtain is Walker Evans on the train with the cable release going down his sleeve. It’s Vivian Maier getting genuine candor by being invisible because she was a woman. It’s Merry Alpern perving out on the illegal sex club from her friend’s loft.

This is street photography when no one is in the streets. They are stuck at home, I am stuck at home. So I look. I want to document time in this way. Stasis. We’re all waiting for our lives to come back. Maybe the best thing is to just sit and smoke, sleep, stare at our phones, dance, wait, cry, look. These images are about looking, and being looked at.

Please enjoy looking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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p.s. Hey. Today the noted and wonderful contemporary artist Brendan Lott gifts the blog with an array of the beautiful and eerie photographic works he’s been making while being homebound by the pandemic. Lucky us, as you can see or have seen by now. He has also been known to grace the commenting arena under the moniker brendan, so feel more than even usually free to give him some kind of shout out today in your verbiage. That would be most cool of you. Thanks from the blog’s heart’s bottom, Brendan. ** David Ehrenstein, And vice versa. And birthday greetings in absentia to the two, yes, gods. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Good to know re: ‘The Mandalorian’. Still, between not watching TV and being a bit put off by the online mania about that baby Yoda thing, I think I’ll take a rain check. So, do you sing ‘Louie Louie’ while you’re playing it? You have to, right? Even under your breath? Back in the old days, you had to pay for guitar lessons, so I guess the old don’t whatever a gift horse in the mouth thing applies? ** _Black_Acrylic, She’s swell. I thought Cardin was dead already. I think I even said that in the recent Sade castle post, oops. From what I read yesterday, the castle goes to Cardin’s kids who the local townsfolk hate even more than they did the big guy. ** Dominik, Hi, D! I wondered if you knew her videos and whether you’d like them. I’m glad you do. They’re very special, no? I love DeAundra’s voice too. I met her/him years ago in her/his day-to-day persona at a Queer Zine convention, and that voice is not a put on. He is she, or was. I welcome your love from yesterday with widely open arms, as I’m sure don’t need to tell you. Thank you. Love that feels like whatever these two 13 year old boys in a K-Hole are feeling, Dennis. ** Paul Curran, Hi, Paul! So good, right, those videos? Yeah, the bag may vary from country to country but we’re in the same one. Endlessly. But yours has (or will soon have) Nintendoland in it, so it wins … something. I’m so happy to hear you’re chipping, and away at numerous things no less! Excited for the expat anthology. I have to do something for the Infinity Land one too, but I’m still clueless about what that will be. What are you doing for it, do you know? No sweat about the post, of course. Whenever/if-ever would be awesome. Yes, fucking hell, 2021 better be fucking insanely astounding. Which is probably the longest shot wish ever, but still. Love, me. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Yes, her artworks are quite admired in the art world. And that animated video she made is excellent if you ever get a chance to see it somewhere. I would say the JFK thing is a better case for Father of the Conspiracy Theory, although I would be shocked if there weren’t examples going way further back. I think Hitler being actually dead or secretly alive somewhere was a pretty big one. ** Jeff J, Hey, Jeff. Yeah, painting mostly. She shows with very good galleries all over the place. I agree about Le Tigre falling off once she bowed out. I’m a big fan of Susan Hiller. I think I might have done a galerie post about her at some point. I know her work has been in a bunch of the thematic posts. I knew her a little. She interviewed me onstage at the ICA in London once on a book tour. She was tough. Her work is great and, yes, as of right now at least, very undersung. Ah, Michael! I miss him too. He and I talked about Skyping or Zooming at some point, but we never have. I’ll try to reach him. Sure, a Skype sounds good. Just hit me up when you want, and we’ll sort it. ** Right. You are fully informed already about your local entertainment for today, so enjoy the show, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

16 Comments

  1. Ian

    Hey Brendan. I really like these photos. They are so so voyeuristic. They are kinda like creepy and sexy and sad and lonely. It’s like only parts of ppl exist and they are always being obstructed by something that is between us and them. It is easy to see myself in these partial humans. Sitting alone smoking, surfing the internet, playing on my phone, waiting for the grand reset.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Ps: hi Dennis xoxo

  2. David Ehrenstein

    Fabulous photos Brendan. It’s you own private “Rear Windhow”!

  3. Misanthrope

    Brendan Lott, I really like these. They do make me think of something my mom and I were talking about the other day while watching a true crime story about a woman who had a peeping tom who eventually killed her: who on earth keeps their curtains open, especially at night so everyone can see in? Eep.

    Dennis, Really funny you say that about the online mania around The Mandalorian. I went out to this Garden in Lights thing in Solomons, MD last nigh that we all did last year. Of course, we got to talking about The Mandalorian (mainly because I was wearing a Mandalorian t-shirt Kayla bought me for Christmas), and my one friend was amazed that I watch it because I’m so anti-whatever’s-really-big at whatever time. Like, it’s a total turnoff when I see that. There have only been two exceptions: The Mandalorian and Ozark.

    I’ve never seen Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, etc. Most of it is that whole mania thing and everyone else is watching it. (Okay, I tried to watch two Game of Thrones episodes because of Kayla and fell asleep during both.)

    I hear the Wonder Woman is total shit. I could tell by the trailer. And by the fact that I fell asleep in the theater three times watching the first one.

    Well, you can still pay for guitar lessons. They can be quite expensive. Most of the YouTube guys and gals who have guitar lesson channels actually recommend it. However, you can learn a lot online. The Fender Play subscription I’m doing, I got a good deal on it and pay less than $2 a month for the next year. The only thing with the YouTube ones and even this subscription is that there’s no interaction, no back and forth. I have questions! Really would like to go in detail about things but that can’t be a done. A paid instructor…sure. I looked some up in my area and they can be quite expensive. Ugh.

    Just started Martin Amis’ new novel. I like it. Duh. I’m an Amis fan. Really just like his style and his humor. Still waiting this one later this year…what’s it called?…I can’t remember…oh, wait, I Wished. Got it. Phew!

    Hmm, those are a lot of people in your 1–2pm slot there Thursday. What are you reading, two pages? Erp.

  4. Misanthrope

    Oh, and meant to say, no, no singing to “Louie Louie” yet. I’m not that far along, hahaha. Still just learning that opening riff. Singing, especially with my horrible voice, would get in the way, I think. 😛

  5. Bzzt

    Happy New Years Dennis! I’ve become a huge megafan of Brendan Lott, so I’m happy to see his work up here. I told Brendan this privately but I think what’s really remarkable about this series is that so many of these people are being captured making art. They’re dancing to music, or they’re taking pictures on their smartphones, or they’re typing on their laptops. Of course you can’t say for sure if they’re deliberately making art, and you can’t say for sure if what they’re making qualifies as art. But I think it raises a question of how art is presented to us, and what conventions/forces preclude us from experiencing art.
    I hope you’re having a good end to your year Dennis.

  6. Jack Skelley

    Hi Dennis & good peeps: We get to play Grace Kelly to Brendan Lott’s Jimmy Stewart. Good thing there is not a Raymond Burr among Brendan’s neighbors (nor a non-boinging William Frawley.) Seriously, the photos are mutely expressive and prompt musings on “pandemic time” smudging once-solid lines. For me it’s happening in my dream life. Hard to capture. Brendan succeeds. Thank you both! And super awesome talking to you yesterday! Like time never happened…

  7. Dominik

    Hi!!

    This post is fantastic. It’s really great and interesting to read others’ opinions and perspectives on these photos. I’m a complete hermit, the kind of introvert who spends 99% of his time home, preferably alone. So I’m basically living in self-imposed quarantine all the time, and I love it this way. To me, these pictures are really comforting. I get warm and safe feelings by seeing people in their homes, even if I know that lots of them probably find these times extremely difficult and painful. Thank you for this experience, Brendan and Dennis.

    For some reason, this knowledge is so comforting. That DeAundra’s voice is the real thing, haha.

    Are you reading something right now? As a little holiday treat from me to myself, I’m re-reading Guide.

    I can’t decide if the boys are in a good place or not, but… I’d be happy to send my black-haired love from yesterday to join them. Love like the “I hate school” frame from Sadie Benning’s “Living Inside.”

  8. Bill

    Brendan, this is a really lovely set!

    Hope the year is closing out smoothly for you, Dennis. My online coding workshop went well, wish I could be in Berlin where this would normally take place. Other than that, mostly planning to start teaching again, and getting a bit anxious about prep.

    I’ve really been enjoying this:
    https://cleanfeedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ways-of-notseeing

    It reminds me somewhat of Ashley Paul’s more abstract moments. Would have been near the top of my 2020 list if I got to it earlier.

    Bill

  9. _Black_Acrylic

    @ Brendan, these are images that define our times! High praise indeed.

  10. Steve Erickson

    I’m so happy I don’t have to review WONDER WOMAN 1984!

    Here’s “808s and Heartburn,” my final song of 2020: https://callinamagician.bandcamp.com/track/808s-and-heartburn. It’s a suitably melancholy send-off for the year.

    @Brendan–Your choice of angles is always fairly unusual. The use of frames within the frame is remarkable. The locations look surprisingly consistent, as though you were shooting a set you had control over. How long do you typically have to search to find them?

  11. calc

    Brendan Lott these photos are great, i love the framing elements that the architecture creates

    hey Dennis, hope youre doing well and keeping safe

  12. Steve Erickson

    A recommendation from YouTube: the Doctors of Madness performing on Twiggy’s British TV show in 1975! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHCvi0C48mY&ab_channel=DoctorsOfMadness

    • Jack Skelley

      Wow. Thanks for this, Steve. I was not aware of Doctors of Madness. (And generally am aware of music from this period.) Enjoyed yr 808 jam too !! HNY to you and yours.

  13. Brian O’Connell

    Hi, Dennis,

    There have been a lot of attempts to document how this time feels, but of all the ones I’ve seen, I think Brendan’s got it down the best. What resonant images—despite their limited view, they encompass so much of the world we’ve all been living in for the past few months: the melancholy, the isolation, the voyeurism, all of it. The work of a real artist. I’m very grateful he chose to share them with us here.

    Today was a bit of a whopper for me: I finished reading your novel “God Jr.” having started it yesterday, and in the evening sat down to watch “The Devil Probably”. That made for quite the pair of intense artistic experiences, and I’m still processing both. But some quick observations: you hardly need to hear what I thought of your own novel, which was stunning, moved me deeply, and fills me with awe (as everything you’ve written has) at your literary skill—it has to be the most accomplished realization of your aesthetic of literary minimalism (that or “Period”), every single sentence pared down to an icy perfection; as for “The Devil Probably”, it completely knocked me over, even knowing everything I did going in. There’s something so transfixing about the way he blocks his actors (or models, rather), the kind of hyper-reality produced by the extreme stylization: they feel both extremely authentic and real, but also unsettlingly artificial, like people in a nightmare. That tied in well with his devastating portrait of modernity as a smoothly-functioning, irredeemably corrupt human-eating machine. It disturbed me, as I knew it would, but I couldn’t look away. It was beautiful, and I loved it, is what I’m trying to say. Not that I expected otherwise. (Oh, and I also managed to catch Bertolucci’s “The Conformist”, finally, which I think I found just as beautiful, although in a very different way for very different reasons.)

    Sorry to ramble. I hope everything’s been going well with you. Please fill me in on anything of note. Thanks again to Brendan for the wonderful post (which bears some affinity with the Bresson, now that I think of it). May the waning hours of this tremendously shit year bring something good for you.

  14. Brendan

    Thank you Dennis and Blog locals! I’m so happy to share this work with you. Be well and fuck 2020!

    B

  15. Corey Heiferman

    Brendan, I enjoyed these a lot. They’re right at the zero point between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Thanks!

    A new building just went up next to mine and is close to finished. People must be moving in soon. There are balconies within spitting distance of my bedroom. I’m sure I’ll enjoy that more than the hellish construction noise that’s been there for two and a half years.

    I’m back in my Tel Aviv apartment. For a few days before my flight it looked like I would’ve been forced to quarantine in a hotel, but thankfully the government backed down on that one. I’ll be stuck here 10-14 days. I start the new job on Monday. My group at the company is totally work from home anyway so my quarantine won’t make any difference.

    It’s very strange to leave home, go on a long journey, and then arrive at another home on a different continent. That’s how it feels leaving my Tel Aviv apartment and going to my Massachusetts childhood home or vice versa. I get a sense of culture shock going both ways. Maybe you have similar feelings about your Paris and L.A. homes?

    Wow, the 21st Century is turning 21 already. I hope it matures a little bit. Thank you so much for another year of blogging, Dennis, and here’s a toast to many more!

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