The blog of author Dennis Cooper



Mads Lynnerup
Claire Fontaine
Douglas Gordon & Morgane Tschiember
Martin Honert
Bernard Aubertin
Daniel Wurtzel
Anya Gallaccio
Jeppe Hein
Alona Rodeh
Oscar Tuazon
Pyotr Pavlensky
Katja Novitskova
Yōsuke Yamashita
Laurin Döpfner
Gal Weinstein
Tanapol Kaewpring
Raphael Hefti
Louise Despont
Tan Teng Kee
Maximilian Moll
Stuart Haygarth
Teresita Fernández
Item Idem
Liza Lou
Antonio Manfredi
Ian Strange
Steven Spazuk
Du Zhenjun


Mads Lynnerup Everything Has Been Done (2019)
‘In this video a book lights on fire, as it gets opened. The book was published by Colpa Press in San Francisco and is in a limited edition of 50 in which 10 out of the 50 books has the potential of lighting on fire, when opening the book. Every book comes in a sealed bag, so there’s no way to tell what books will light on fire or not. To purchase one of the books. Click on this link.’


Claire Fontaine France (burnt/unburnt) (2012)
‘I arrived just as the first matches were being lit. There was a hose ready in the gallery and fire extinguishers around in case things got out of control– I remember feeling relieved to see that. Everyone had their iPhones and camcorders out to document the slow burn of the piece. At first, when the map was lit on fire (intentionally), it burnt slowly and was rather gorgeous.

‘However, within about 15 seconds of burning, something went wrong and the flame began to surge out of control. We were not sure if it was part of the art piece… however, soon the smoke was billowing over the entire crowd and the sulphur was so hot and thick that it hurt the lungs.’

‘Someone yelled “EVERYONE OUT!!!” and the small crowd stumbled out the front door on Mission Street. The smoke was so thick and yellow that one couldn’t see.’


Douglas Gordon & Morgane Tschiember As close as you can for as long as it lasts at Elevation 1049 (2017)
‘‘As close as you can…’ is an artwork made using fire, smoke and sound —a call and response between two artists—an oblique reference to the well-known history of yodeling in this particular landscape. Tschiember and Gordon were invited to visit the beautiful but terrifying mountain landscape around Gstaad. As a reference to Jack London, Morgane Tschiember decided to build a fire – the only thing that can help to survive in this supernatural environment. In response to this Douglas gordon answers by installing a sound piece based on our primal fears – of unknown animals, our fear of the dark, driving us towards the fire of Morgane Tschiember.’


Martin Honert Fire (1992)
Polyester, painted, illuminated
245 x 205 x 205 cm


Bernard Aubertin tableaux-feu (2012)
‘Bernard Aubertin was a French artist born in 1934 in Fontenay-aux-Roses, France. He died in August 2015 in Reutlingen, Germany. He met Yves Klein in 1957 and joined the Zero movement during the 1960-1961 period. One of his text (″Esquisse de la situation picturale du rouge dans un concept spatial″) was published in the Zero magazine, vol 3. July 1961. He is known for his red monochromes (1958), paint and nails on panel, fire paintings and performance arts.’


Daniel Wurtzel Fog & Fire Tornadoes (2014)
‘Daniel is a fantastic artist who has created a unique series of shows using air flow. The Air series of sculptures and room-sized installations involves lightweight materials such as bird feathers, flower petals, Styrofoam peanuts, fabric, balloons, soap bubbles, fog, fire or ordinary litter from the street that are trapped, and continuously fly in columns or vortices of open air. This show will make a huge impact at any function, whether it is a private party or a corporate event.’


Anya Gallaccio No Better Place Than This (1995)
Installation, beeswax candles, glass, wood; Size: 73 x 183 cm.


Jeppe Hein Water Flame (2011)
‘The installation, which is essentially a small fountain with a flame dancing atop the stream of cascading water, creates the paradoxical visual effect by dispelling a dose of natural gas through the water, making it flammable and able to emit a ball of fire at the center. Thus, there is the illusion of a cooperative relationship between the two natural elements.’


Alona Rodeh Fire, Work! (2010)
‘There are different expectations from a gallery which operates within a community center, among others, the pedagogical-social content it displays. Alona Rodeh plays a fascinating game with these expectations. She creates a work that looks like a study video, a cooking class; but Rodeh is cooking up a revolution. Her work is first and foremost a recipe, a visual instructional guide for the unexpected.’


Oscar Tuazon Burn the Formwork (2017)
‘In Münster, Tuazon has installed an object made of concrete in an industrial wasteland along a canal—an undefined plot of land which is used by various groups of people. The object serves as a public fireplace. The cylindrically shaped sculpture can be used for barbecuing, warming up, and as a look-out. The work’s focal point is the chimney-like pillar with its two integrated fireplaces—its reduced form is the consequence of its function. A spiral stairway with large steps rises around the hearth, encircling two-thirds of it. In turn, the stairway is bounded by a lateral wall. The vitiated air from the separate fireplaces is conveyed to the chimney through a system of pipes beneath the stairway. The small sections of wooden boarding that were used in the construction can be removed and burned as well.’


‘Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky, famous for his radical acts of protest art that range from nailing his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square to cutting off part of his ear, was sentenced to three years in prison for his latest action: setting the Banque of France on the Place de la Bastille square in central Paris on fire in October 2017 with his then partner Oksana Shalygina.

‘At the time, the thirty-four-year-old artist said, “The Banque de France has taken the place of the Bastille, and bankers have taken the place of monarchs.” The square’s namesake, the Bastille prison, was stormed by rebels in 1789, signaling the beginning of the French Revolution. Pavlensky reiterated his stance on the bank at trial, which he dedicated to Marquis de Sade, the eighteenth-century French nobleman and revolutionary known for his libertine sexuality. He also praised the yellow vest protesters, who have been rallying against increasing fuel prices and other frustrations in Paris over the course of the last several weeks.’


Katja Novitskova Neolithic Potential (fire worship, yellow horns) (2016)
‘In Neolithic Potential (fire worship, yellow horns) (2016) Novitskova digests and refracts natural phenomena through digital post-production techniques. Novitskova’s use of the Internet as a source for appropriation harkens back to the “new photography,” of the 1980’s, with the feminist appropriation movement, and even before that in Dadaist collage techniques. Here, her cutouts look like puppets miming signage.’


BGL Marshmallow + Cauldron + Fire = (2009)
‘A metal cauldron, filled with burnt and melted marshmallows, sits on a dancing Plexiglas fire.’


Yosuke Yamashita Burning Piano (2008)
‘Famed Japanese jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita has expressed his burning passion for music by setting his piano on fire at a beach.’


Laurin Döpfner Deconstructed Piano (2014)
‘A Time-Lapse Video of a Piano Being Burned to the Ground With Heat Guns is being burned to the ground by two heat guns, set to “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven. The Sonata represents the agony and grief suffered by the piano. For this performance two heat guns at a temperature of 650°C work the piano’s wood on and on to the point of collapse.’


Gal Weinstein Fire Tires (2012)
‘Tel Aviv-based artist Gal Weinstein replicates a number of burning tires emitting heaps of billowing smoke in the aptly titled series Fire Tires. Each sculpture, which reaches up to a height of 4 meters, is made of wax, carved to look like tires, accompanied by various skillfully crafted components to mimic the thick, swirling smoke rising into the air. The artist combines polystyrene foam, pillow filler and graphite dust to capture the remarkable tone and texture of the suffocating substance.’


Tanapol Kaewpring Entrapment (2010)
‘Tanapol Kaewpring’s body of work gives form to these abstract challenges by using a curious glass cube in the natural and urban environment as a metaphor for the systems we are constrained by.’


Raphael Hefti Quick Fix Remix (2013)
‘The Swiss artist performed at the opening, where the gallery filled with sand became an experimental workshop for his fiery intervention that has left a new piece of ‘land art’.’


Louise Despont According to the Universe (2015)


Tan Teng-Kee Fire Sculpture (1979)
‘Tan Teng-Kee is known for his experimental approach to metal sculpting. Tan saw sculpture as a channel for social interaction, saying, “I want viewers to go into the sculpture, have a feeling of space, time and intrinsic material quality… This is the shining realm of art.” Tan is most known for his 1979 outdoor exhibition near his home, which culminated in Fire Sculpture. This has been described as the first “happening” to take place in Singapore, and marked the earliest removal of art from a gallery to the outdoors in Singapore.’


Maximilian Moll Keep the Fire Burning (2011)
‘Maximilian Moll extracts from the mass media the remnants of our visual culture, which is only thriving on the outside make-believe of pictures, and he combines the fragments in collages of kaleidoscopic compositions of our collective memory of images. By bringing together elements which are contradictory or don’t belong together, he examines the impact of the images – looking behind their semantic qualities, tackling their iconic and symbolic substance. Aside from an evident reality, cliches are constantly created from all images which reconfirm themselves as true by repetition and adapted re-use. Appearing to be something they are not: reality.’


Stuart Haygarth Pyre (2006)
‘Kee Klamp steel framework, timber base and 70 vintage electric log effect fires.’


Teresita Fernández Fire (America) (2016)
‘Teresita Fernández’s 16-foot glazed ceramic wall panel, Fire (America) (2016) is a hypnotic installation daunting by virtue of its scale, and mesmerizing by virtue of its vivid color and heavy symbolism that abounds. From the title of the piece, we understand that the nocturnal landscape being devoured by flames is a metaphor for America—a nation that exists both as a place and fragmented vision, ultimately forming a fifty-state mosaic. The work however is not just a representation of the planet’s natural elements; it is a multi-layered replica of the earth and of the American continent, which unravels more and more the longer one spends with it.’


Item Idem NUII (2017)
‘The romantic wholeness of now Republican-captive politics and economy is shattered. Artist Cyril Duval, who works under the nom de guerre Item Idem, considers how extremely mediatized American culture and avant-garde policy leaders are inspiring Stygian attitudes toward the future. In his first new work, entitled “NUII,” two millennials (Eric Lyle Lodwick and Henry Stambler) assume a phantasmagorical journey where their individualities disappear under one collective identity of anti-capitalism. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl called this symbolic life “participation mystique.” Too, the project summons thoughts on the dialectic tension between Apollonian and Dionysian realities as intuited by Friedrich Nietzsche.’


Liza Lou The Worshipper (2004)
Quartz crystal and resin, in two parts each: 44 x 44 x 21in


Antonio Manfredi Art War (2012)
‘A museum in Italy has started burning its artworks in protest at budget cuts which it says have left cultural institutions out of pocket. Antonio Manfredi, of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, set fire to the first painting on Tuesday. “Our 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government’s indifference,” he said. The work was by French artist Severine Bourguignon, who was in favour of the protest and watched it online. “The survival of the museum is such an important cause that it justifies the despicable, and painful, act of destroying a work of art,” she told the BBC. “My work burned slowly, with a sinister crackle. It cost me a lot, but I have no other means of protesting against the loss of this institution.” Mr Manfredi plans to burn three paintings a week from now on, in a protest he has dubbed “Art War”.’


Ian Strange Untitled Film [Destruction of Three Holden Commodores] (2011)
‘Film from Ian Strange ‘Home’ installation exhibition, Turbine Hall, Cockatoo Island – Sydney, Australia. The exhibition featured a full scale replica of the artists childhood home rebuilt from early adolescent memory and this film documenting the destruction of three Holden Commodore cars inside the exhibition space.’


Steven Spazuk 90 sec. imprint (2015)
‘For the past 16 years, artist Steven Spazuk has been honing the craft of painting with fire. The “fire artist” uses the resulting soot from flames to produce haunting, delicate work. By trailing his tools over the remnants of a flame, he almost sculpts his subjects on the canvas in a technique called fumage.’


Du Zhenjun Global Fire (2007)
‘This dome can be installed in both inside and outside of the exhibition space. The inside of the dome comes with 12 thermo-sensors. Each sensor is installed onto a metal-structure, total 12 pieces, with same height 1,6m. Each temperature-sensor contains two functions: one shows the current temperature. Another one is the temperature which can turn on the image of flames. 12 metal-structures should be positioned in a circle. The whole space of the dome with 360° will be covered by the images from 5 projectors. Visitors can interact with the artwork by lighting up temperature sensors then turn on the image of flames. Projected flame is burning the flags of 200 countries. Each sensor can be lighted up individually. Projected image of flame can last 2 minutes; after, it can be repeated by another visitor. If 12 sensors are turned on at the same time, then the image of an explosion effect will be shown. This scene includes three sections, one minute each.’



p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yeah, I must have something like 400 of those very (and other) 70s/80s porn mags in storage in LA somewhere. ** Damien Ark, Hi. Oh, excellent. Inspiration = best. But Bernard gets all the credit. There used to be a store like that just off Polk Street. Probably the same albeit moved shop. You good? Hope so. ** Milk, Hi, Milk. It’s true that porn stars with huge dicks were one so special that they became quite famous in the porn world due entirely to that attribute whereas now huge dicks are almost de rigeur. But then there’s a billion times more porn being made now than back then, and in half the countries on earth, so I guess that’s why? I don’t know ‘The Deuce’, and I will find and watch it. Thanks! ** Bill, Hi. I don’t know ‘The Man with the Magic Box’. You’re really on the tip, man. I’ll find out what it is. Thanks as always. If Steven is behind Wasted Books then I’m pretty certain I’m Facebook friends with him albeit under a pseudonym. Interesting. ** Ralph Blake, Well, the post was comedic in intention, so I think you’re barking up the wrong tree? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. Haunted mannequin sounds scary. The most terrifying thing to me in the world is or rather are space walks. Astronauts on those tethers floating around out there. So I would say that’s what I’d write about, but just typing that was so scary to me that it hunched my shoulders. Oh, ouch, about your laptop. You can’t transfer the old stickers to a new one? Liking your Frank Sidebottom newbie. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi. No, I have not seen ‘Sleep Furiously’, and it is total news to me unless I’m spacing, so thank you, and I’ll see what I can do. Will you also edit-exercise the footage you shot at that curious place? ** Steve Erickson, Mm, I guess I like Grimes okay but not hugely. I like her better than Purity Ring. Yeah, I saw a very positive review of her new album, suspiciously positive, I thought, for some reason. Congrats on nailing the Nail piece. I hope ‘Corpus Christi’ is a goodie. ** Armando, Hi. Uh, I guess I got done what I needed to this weekend. No, my late, great friend/publisher Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens is who introduced me to Florence Delay. ** Okay. Hey scarecrows, wanna play ball? See you tomorrow.


  1. Armando


    I’m very sorry about the confusion.

    Have you noticed there’s at least one fire in *EVERY* single Malick Film? I *THINK* ‘Song To Song’ may be the only exception.

    I’m really really really sorry, I just sent you an email. It’s an extremely short one. Please, please forgive me.

    Good day, good luck;

    Best Regards,


  2. Corey Heiferman

    Really enjoyed these, especially the flaming water, the piano played wile burning, the volcano, and the pile of electric log fires. Reminded me of an idea in the back of my mind to make a documentary about the people who handle safety and insurance for extreme art installations and performances.

    Yeah, I guess I will do at least some of the edting in the very place where I filmed. My hunch is also to find a more hands-on DIY project to do there, maybe some kind of video installation. I’m really bad at assembling and fixing things but there’s plenty of help there.

  3. David Ehrenstein

    And here’s Jimi Hendrix !

    So far just one person has contacted me about my sale. More please!

  4. Armando


    Are there still tickets for the CROWD shows on March 24, 25 in Annecy at Bonlieu Scène nationale, sorry? How could I buy one?

    The Paris shows of May 27 – 31 ‘THIS IS HOW YOU WILL DISAPPEAR’ in Paris are the very first ones of that piece?

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    The Douglas Gordon and Morgane Tschiember piece looks most intriguing. Funnily enough, like Yosuke Yamashita DG also set a grand piano on fire for his 2012 film End of Civilisation. In April, he’ll be showing his forthcoming film k.364 at the DCA so I’m very much looking forward to that.

  6. Bernard

    Fire is beautiful. When I was a kid, we burned trash in a pile in the back yard. I’m surprised I didn’t become an arsonist, really.
    Thank you for reviving, once again, the Golden Boys. Yeah, passing years + selection can convert anything earnest into satire, but the more saturated with desire, the more ripe for irony. You are very kind to spread the legend, and now, with the addition of the revived STH Day a couple weeks ago, which I don’t think I’ve thanked you for, I am pretty much The Sex Guy. At least the Past Tense of Sex Guy. (I’m still working with Billy Miller on future STH.
    Also special thanks for Dušan Makavejev: I used to say WR was in my top ten, along with Godard Week End and Buñuel Discreet Charm. I should rewatch.
    I have been down with sinusitis for a week. I don’t get sick much but sometimes I get so sick I can’t even work, and it’s nice to read. Somehow I can’t really enjoy binge watching movies/series shows , though; I think it’s too much like being home sick from school as a kid.
    I will be at AWP in San Antonio next week. I don’t go to stuff like that much, I’m almost phobic about poetry “contacts,” but this year I really am trying to scope out the presses and mags, so I’m going to be on a charm offensive. Maybe when I get some publications set up, I can disappear into obscurity again.
    Won’t be in Paris this summer. Will be in UK and Ireland.
    And by the way, I sent Diarmuid screen caps of the response to your FB announcement of his book about you, and he’s pretty thrilled.

  7. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I sure hope you’ve considered all the ramifications of this day in regards to the tens of thousands of elementary-age children who revere you as their god and look at the blog every day for a word from their master. You may have just created a whole generation of firebugs.

    Seriously, though, fire is insane. It’s interesting from a distance. Up close, it’s interesting too…unless it’s burning the fuck out of you or somebody else. Yikes.

    Watched “Hereditary” the other night. Not as scary as I thought it’d be. Then again, I was watching it with three other people with the lights on. I don’t know, I just expected something…different?

    Yes, you’re right, you can have high glucose levels without being a sugar junkie. Thing is, I’ve never had high ones before! Another yikes…though I’m not worried about it.

    Had the MRI Saturday. I’m wondering if the tech’s last name wasn’t Mengele. Fucker twisted me up inside that sucker like a twink on meth getting fucked in his earholes. I had to lay on my stomach with my left arm stretched out above me and twisted, with a sandbag on my hand to keep it in place and from twisting back. They had this foot rest thing that actually ended up arching my back. And all this for 30 minutes. I’m a man, so I made it through, but sheesh…fucker was trying to break me! My thumb and first two fingers lost all feeling 10 minutes in. Otherwise, it was fun.

    Twitter is one of those things that can be really good for marketing and finding some funny shit, but people should never read replies. Trolls thrive on that platform. You could post a cure for cancer and some dick would find a way to ruin it and make you feel like shit about it.

    Talk about hysteria…this coronavirus. I kind of don’t know how serious or not to take it. Maybe because there are so many conflicting things about it, that’s a reason to take it more seriously than I am right now.

  8. David Ehrenstein

    Latest FaBlog: Springtime For Tweety

    Get Well Bernard!

  9. Bill

    Love today’s pieces. Didn’t Alex Rose incorporate burning into some of his pieces? Good to see Yamashita still bashing away after all these years. And I’m so tempted to pick up a copy of that Mads Lynnerup book, but.

    I can’t take credit for the umm tippiness, Dennis. I’m friends with Nate Dorr on letterboxd, and this was just an obvious Bill item on his feed.

    Somehow it’s taken me all this time to start the Steve Abbott anthology. Very enjoyable so far. I have to dig up that issue of Soup…


  10. item idem

    Dear Dennis,
    I was so pleasantly surprised to find out that you had recently written about my film NUII ; a film I had used as a mean to phrase my own catharsis in the wake of the 2016 political campaign… For some reasons unclear to me, I later on decided to temporarily shelve/hide this project and redirect my film practice on slightly different subjects (that are though still/always dealing with the metaphysics of Fire) and have produced 2-3 new film works since NUII.
    Reading your great words on my piece has given me confidence again & reactivated my desire to show this very particular work of mine, so I have decided to make the entire film (35 min) fully accessible online. I am attaching the link below, might you – or anyone reading this – be curious to see the whole thing.
    I hope this finds you well and thanking you again for your interest in my work.
    With kind regards,

    NUII, a film by item idem. 2017.

  11. item idem

    Dear Dennis,
    I was so pleasantly surprised to find out that you had recently written about my film NUII, a film I had used as a mean to phrase my own catharsis in the wake of the 2016 political campaign… For some reasons unclear to me, I later on decided to temporarily shelve/hide this project and redirect my film practice towards slightly different subjects (that are though still/always dealing with the metaphysics of Fire) and have produced 2-3 new film works since NUII.
    Reading your great words on my piece has given me confidence again & reactivated my desire to show this very particular work of mine, so I have decided to make the entire film (35 min) fully accessible online. I am attaching the link below, might you – or anyone reading this – be curious to see the whole thing.
    I hope this finds you well and thanking you again for your interest in my work.
    With kind regards,
    Cyril Duval

    NUII, a film by item idem. 2017.

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