The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Guns *

* Halloween countdown post #14



Robert Lazzarini Guns (2008)
Robert Lazzarini’s artwork springs from a desire to understand the perceivable limits of the material world. Conceptually and formally rigorous, he pushes ordinary objects to their limits by mining the twined threads of distortion and material veracity. By fully devoting himself to these indispensable characteristics, Lazzarini negotiates a place between two and three dimensions that challenges his viewers’ understanding of the physical world and their visual perception. Though often mistaken for mere anamorphism, Lazzarini’s work is in fact affected by multiple mathematical distortions so that his pieces elude finite conclusions and deny normative reads. In Lazzarini’s most recent exhibition, guns and knives at the Aldrich Museum of Art, he has turned his attention forward in two significant ways. The first is a shift within the sculptures, which for the first time conflate multiple objects to further complicate and abstract the forms. The second is an alteration of the actual gallery itself, whose walls are canted at varying angles to subtly disrupt the viewer’s apprehension of the physical space and further offset the distortions of the works themselves.


Ravi Zupa Mightier Than (2016)
“The main components are typewriter components,” Zupa said. “I’ll take apart a typewriter and paw through that pile and find pieces that seem appropriate.” He uses typewriter rollers as the barrels and stapler guns for the triggers and the grips on his mock assault rifles and machine guns. Zupa said he has fired the gun several times.


Joana Vasconcelos Call Center (2014-2016)
Call Center presents itself under the form of an enormous Beretta revolver built with recourse to the accumulation of 168 black landline telephones, each of the same exact model. The title, associated to the referenced objects, appears to report to the manipulation and dehumanized excess that is characteristic of many call centers. Musician Jonas Runa composed an electroacoustic symphony for the telephone rings. Each ring was slightly altered in order to produce different notes, transforming the work into a musical instrument. Some of the suspended receivers and, most of all, the powerful speaker installed in the interior of the revolver cannon work as the vehicles for the electronics that integrate this singular and intense electroacoustic symphony.


Phillip Toledano Hope & Fear (2015)


Pedro Reyes Disarm (2014)
Pedro Reyes creates second generation instruments from dismantled guns. With a team of musicians and new media studio, Cocolab, Reyes has made mechanized instruments from these one-time harmful weapons.


Claes Oldenburg Ray Gun Wing (1977)
In Claes Oldenburg’s numerous Ray Gun works, he has an obsession with the right angle. In addition to creating several Ray Gun sculptures in a variety of materials (plaster, paper-mache, vacuum formed commercial plastics, etc.etc.), he amassed an even larger collection of found ray guns. “All one has to do is stoop to gather them from sidewalks,” wrote Yve-Alain Bois, “he did not even need to collect them himself: he could ask his friends to bring them to him (he accepted or refused a find, based on purely subjective criteria).” Ray Gun Wing, published by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, in 1977, documents his collection, and proposal for a museum.


David Černý Guns (1994)
By far the most famous contemporary Czech artist, David Cerny has snagged a name for himself as the “bad boy” of Czech art. In ‘Guns’ (1994), four gigantic “Guns” are aimed at each other while suspended in mid-air. Every now and then, a blast rings out from the guns to the sound of slamming doors, flushing toilets, and car brakes.


Vija Celmins Various (1964 – 2010)
‘I think I felt that these images belonged to all of us. they were our images. However, I must have been interested in Freudian, phallic imagery of some sort, right? There is a photograph of me taken in 1966. I had been working on a large sculpture of a pencil stub, which is sitting beside me, along with a nude mannequin that someone had brought over for me to decorate for a show. that photo would have inspired Freud! I think many young artists have sex on their minds, and I think I did too. The drawing of the gun [Clipping with Pistol 1968] came from the fact that a friend of mine had been attacked and her boyfriend gave her a gun, so I wanted to do a picture of it. I did some paintings, and then got interested in gun magazines, tore out some clippings, did this one drawing and then lost interest.’ — Vija Celmins

“Pistol” (1964)

“Gun with Hand #1” (1964)

“Hand Holding a Firing Gun” (1964)

“Hand holding a firing gun (study)” (1964)

“Table With Gun” (2009-2010)


Felix Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (Death by Gun) (1990)
While González-Torres dealt with gay rights, AIDS, and a variety of governmental abuses in his own work and as a member of the collective Group Material, the subject of “Untitled” (Death by Gun), and its treatment, is unusually specific for him. Appropriating imagery from Time magazine, it presents 460 individuals killed by gunshot in one week in the United States, and includes the name, age, and circumstances of death for each person depicted. No opinion about gun control is added by the artist. Here an issue of public debate engages anyone who follows the artist’s intention and takes away one of his sheets. Dissemination, an age-old function of printed art, is ongoing since “Untitled” (Death by Gun) is reprinted as the stack is depleted.


Mel Chin HOME y SEW 9 (1994)
“HOME y SEW 9” features a Glock-17 9 mm handgun that Chin transformed into a working first-aid kit. “HOME y SEW 9,” Chin said, came about when he “started thinking about how weapons in our culture, especially guns, have such a tremendous aura — a tremendous presence — in the minds of individuals across the country.” The idea of hollowing out the gun to make room for a first-aid kit struck him as “a better way of understanding our gun culture. The more you deconstructed this weapon, the more you could get closer to saving your life, or someone else’s.”


Charles Gitnick Various (2015-2016)
He’s not your average artist. For starters, Charles Gitnick is 11 years old. But age doesn’t mean a thing when you have New York, Miami and L.A. gallerists approaching you about your work. Doing art since age five, Gitnick started his ‘career’ by mixing colors, visiting art museums and learning about artists. His most famous work involves the splattering of paint and color over guns–all sizes, too, from petite pistols to heavy machine guns.


::vtol:: GBG-8 (2015)
Russian artist ::vtol:: recently created an 8-bit instant photo gun by combining a Game Boy, gun, camera, and a thermal printer with an Arduino.


Joachim Koester The Place of Dead Roads (2013)
The Place of Dead Roads is a video that follows four androgynous cowboys as they enact a choreographed duel. Staged in a subterranean maze, each subject motions at their invisible opponents with actions characteristic of the Western genre—drawing their guns, shooting, and shifting their bodies to survey their surroundings. Instead of being driven by story, their actions seem motivated by hidden messages transmitted from a world deep within their bodies, a notion that evokes Wilhelm Reich’s idea that “every muscular contraction contains the history and meaning of its origin.” Watch an excerpt.


Francis Alÿs Camguns (2008)
Francis Alÿs’ series of cam guns: a group of wooden rifles that incorporate found film reels instead of bullet chambers, evoking the artist’s confrontational nature, attacking subjects through film but in this case allowing visitors to pick up the “weapons,” making them active participants.


Karen Kilimnik I Don’t Like Mondays, the Boomtown Rats, Shooting Spree, or Schoolyard Massacre (1991)
Banal, degraded, abject, or seemingly inconsequential, the objects of Karen Kilimnik’s installations together create jarring associations and hybrid perspectives on the issues of her day. In I Don’t Like Mondays, the Boomtown Rats, Shooting Spree, or Schoolyard Massacre, 1991, Kilimnick hung, drilled, and painted some components onto the wall, and scattered others, standing and sitting on the floor. These components–including shooting targets, chicken wire, a cassette player and cassette, clothing, photocopies, a whiffle ball and bat, a badminton racket, baton, mechanical toy dog, toy guns, lunchbox, jump rope, rubber ball, pencils, notebooks, gravel, pushpins–together comprise an aggressive, unsettling scene that presents by turns as a shooting range, magazine spread, classroom, child’s bedroom, and crime scene.


John Baldessari Kiss/ Panic (1984)
Kiss/ Panic (1984) celebrates the banality of gun-culture evil in a rectilinear mandala that combines black and white images of firearms with a full-color close-up of mouths colliding in a kiss. The picture’s possible meanings ripple out from its ambiguous center in a way that is typical of Baldessari’s taste for paradox.


Burt Barr Dolly Shot Twice (1997)
In the work, an attractive blonde woman (ostensibly named “Dolly”) is seen slumped over in a vintage Cadillac convertible parked in a wooded area. The scene is captured twice, first by a camera slowly moving to the left from a few yards away—in a “dolly shot”—and then again, but close-up, allowing us to take notice of the two bullet wounds in her head, as the camera slowly pans to the right.


Laurie Simmons Lying Gun (1990), Walking Gun (1991)


Niki de Saint Phalle Untitled from Edition MAT 64 (1964)
Solicited by Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri to provide instructions for how her multiples should be executed, she responded with a letter written to Spoerri’s collaborator Karl Gerstner enumerating a set of “operating instructions.” Though unequivocally direct, her instructions point to an unusual (though signature for the artist) creative act, one to be explicitly followed by amateur marksmen, museum professionals, art patrons, and other interested parties. They read, in full:

Lean picture against a wall.
Put a strong board behind it (if required, in order to protect the wall).
Take a .22 long rifle and load with short ammunition.
Shoot the color pouches which are embedded in the plaster until they have “bled” (or until you like the picture).
Attention! Leave the picture in the same position until well dried. Then still be careful, as remains of color not yet dry might run over the picture.

The emphasis Saint Phalle gives here to the procedures for producing the work—the precision implied in choice of gun, ammunition, and effects of drying paint—is noteworthy, though rarely discussed in the Saint Phalle literature, both for its level of detail and for its relative flexibility. The identity of the shooter is not classified by gender or any other parameters, nor does Saint Phalle indicate any specified location for the shooting event. Rather, the “instructions” ultimately remain open-ended: aim and shoot until “you like the picture.” As a result, Saint Phalle’s premise for the edition was fascinatingly simple. Her “pop gun” method ensured that the monochromatic white could instantly transform into a polychromatic field of intensity; while the multiplication of the blank plaster canvases provided under the Edition MAT portfolio could offer the experience to unknown others.


Amir Mobed Come Caress Me (2010)
It was performed in September 2010 at Azad Art Gallery, Tehran. Mobed stood in front of a target, wearing a bodysuit with a protective metal box over his head, and invited gallery visitors to shoot at him with a pellet gun. It was, he says, a symbolic execution with a message about freedom of speech and the hopes of artists of his generation being silenced. Each time 15 visitor were allowed to enter to the gallery and shoot him. Visiors should stand behind one of the three lines that were painted on the floor and then shoot.


Antony Gormley Silence (2012)




Luz María Sánchez V.F(i) n_1 (2013)
Luz María Sánchez’s work V.F(i) n_1 is a multichannel sound sculpture/installation. The title is a sort of acronym in Spanish; it means Vis. (un) necessary force. It is the first of the series, hence the number 1. V.F(i) n_1 addresses the subject of violence from the citizen’s perspective. Since media is not covering everyday experiences of violence, people flock to the arena offered by social networks, and share their own sounds and images –the ones that communicate their particular experiences within this context of explicit violence.V.F(i) n_1 is assembled using 74 audio players gun-shaped, that build a large format sound-texture composed of the same number of acoustic logs: shootings recorded by citizens caught in confrontations between law enforcement and organized crime in Mexico. V.F(i) n_1 consists of 74 independent audio channels, and the sound tracks are played individually on each of these speakers. At the end of the day and as the batteries run out of charge, speakers/guns go off gradually so the circle of operation/sound non-operation/silence is restarted. The audio tracks that integrate this sound installation/sculpture were taken from different videos available at the YouTube site.


Andy Warhol Gun (1981-1982)
The canvas depicts the exact style of pistol used almost two decades before in an assassination attempt by Valerie Solanas that nearly took Warhol’s life. Silkscreened twice, every detail is meticulously highlighted and dramatized in raw and monochromatic screens. This work sold for $7,026,500 at the Phillips de Pury & Company Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York, 10 May 2012.


Jonathan Fletcher Moore Artificial Killing Machine (2015)
The installation is made up of an array of 15 digitally actuated toy cap guns dangling from the ceiling. A small receiver unit controls the guns autonomously. The toy guns sit dormant until a message comes over the wire from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which collects data on drone strikes. When a strike occurs, the guns abruptly pop into action, and a thermal printer clinically records the strike onto a ledger that dangles to the floor.


Skylar Fein Kurt Cobong (2014)
I really couldn’t think of anything to do with the gun. Months went by and I started to experience a light, effervescent panic over the deadline. I made regular work of sketching. Nothing. At one point, I did acid with a friend, and while tripping came up with a piece! Brilliant and devastating, it would galvanize the entire world of conceptual art. It would be called “Loaded Mossberg 500” and consist of that model of shotgun, sitting on a table. That’s it. There would be special protocols: the gun would be loaded with 7 shells — in full view — by an assistant IMMEDIATELY after the gallery opened each day, so the public could verify that it was live ammunition. The same assistant would unload the weapon at the close of each day should all the shells be left. And therein lies the excitement of the whole enterprise. Low odds, but high consequences. There were two problems with this: one, the idea sounded way, WAY better when I was tripping — hilariously, it seemed like MacArthur Grant material — and two, the gallery’s lawyer would not allow it. I doubt the lawyer had anything to do with it. My suspicion is that it was the gallery owner who nixed it. This seems fair enough. It’s not like I can’t imagine his concerns. I tried to rent a room in a downtown office building to do the piece but once I explained the purpose the offer was quickly withdrawn. I offered to maintain an armed security guard next to the piece at all times. No dice. The next day, I went to some other dump in the CBD to check out an office space, planning to be obscure about my purpose, but they had already heard about me and sent me away. One day some stoner kid was in my studio and on his way out the door, said, “You should make a bong out of it.” He said it, but when he said it, it wasn’t arch — he tossed it off, it fell from his lips like a Japanese cherry blossom. Once he’d left, I realized it was the best idea yet. After I made it, this gun became the house bong for a few weeks. It works great, though I haven’t exactly gotten used to putting the muzzle of a shotgun in my mouth. It’s still exciting every time.


Federico Mauro Famous Guns (2013)


Mark Bain Acoustic Space Gun (2004)
Acoustic Space Gun (ASG) is a linear sound shifter, which couples a metre-long directional microphone with a parabolic sound emitter pointed in the opposite direction. Used in public space, it collects live sounds and conversations at long distances from one side, then amplifies and presents them far out to the other. Looking like a shoulder mounted sonic weapon of sorts, slightly space age and designed for functionality, it operates as an absurd spatial megaphone, which monitors the crowd in spaces to re-project and shift the natural dynamics of acoustic location. Coupled to the microphone input is an electronic circuit that can add up to 900 metres of delay to the signal. This adjustable delay line allows you to shift the sonic footprint of a certain space, producing a forced echo or canyon effect, which adds to the spatial feedback. Acting as a live mixing instrument, shifting the natural sounds and provoking other levels of hearing, the device is played at a level comparable to the surrounding ambiance. This subtlety added to the confusion, suddenly people can hear their voices coming from alternate directions and in other time frames, echoing off of building façades and twisting the normalcy of public sound.


Chris Burden Shoot (1971)




p.s. Hey. ** HaveANiceLife, Hi. Really? You knew him or recognise the photo from the news or … ? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. I’m prepared, okay, and very interested to read your article. ** Steve Erickson, PnP isn’t a drug, it stands for ‘party and play’, and using that term essentially means he likes to have sex on crystal meth, although other drugs could also be involved. Yeah, ASiB sounds ever more like a very serious miss for me. Everyone, our resident film expert Mr. Steve Erickson has reviewed Nathaniel Kahn’s art world documentary THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING, and I, for one, am most intrigued to get his take. You too? Join me? ** Dominik, Hi, hi! Oh, ‘The Rest I Make Up’ is amazing. ‘Les Garcons Sauvage’ is worth seeing. I didn’t really like it, but it’s something to see. ‘Shéhérazade’ isn’t great as a film, but the performances by the non-actors are fantastic. Leslie Thornton’s documentary ‘The last Time I Saw Ron’. I’ll have to stretch my memory and think of more. I’m so sorry you’re still suffering from your foot! Do see a private doctor if it isn’t better asap, okay? Ugh. Good luck with your return to work, and I’m grateful for your luck wish with mine. You have the greatest week you can too! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yes, and such kind and thoughtful comments. The master/slave community is just full of surprises. ** Jamie, And good morning to you, Jamie. Yes, yes, and true about that one’s face. I’m fine, and my day was all right, involving mostly me procrastinating about getting back to TV script work, although today affords me no such luxury. Your day: ouch, yum, in that order. So sweet and great about your gung-ho working on your script. That means something for sure. Awesome! I’ve had Charles Ray’s works here for sure, but maybe not a full post. The great thing, although limiting as far as the blog is concerned, about Charley’s work is it is very much about about being in its presence, being with it. If you want to do some early planning, the Pompidou is doing a big retrospective of his work, late next year, I think. It will be an utter and absolute must-see. Tuesday: work. My Norwegian pal Kier, artist, very long time blog resident, and the generator of the drawings that the main character makes in ‘PGL’, is newly in Paris for a visit, so maybe I’ll see him. You? Tuesday plans, surprises, … ? May it paraglide you to the promised land. Think Ryan Gosling is a boring actor love, Dennis ** Kyler, Hi, K, buddy boy! I didn’t know there was a Colette film, huh. Def. let me know when your non-fiction piece is up, you bet. Cool. Enjoy NYC’s windfalls. ** Statictick, Howdy, N. Cool about the news on that thing you’re working on and curious to know what’s what. Bernardo Paz? No, not yet, but I just scribbled him down as a mission. Best, me. ** Misanthrope, Thank you! Blimey! I want to see a movie too. I don’t know what’s playing though. Well, maybe the escort photos you recognised were stolen and actually belong to guys who live in your hood but who, sadly, are probably not actually escorts? ** Nik, Hi, man. Still finishing the proposal docs for the new film’s funding and arranging for them to be translated into French re: the money rising possibilities here. We have secured some initial funding from a source in the States, which is cool. Thanks about the recent posts. I think I’ve heard of the Headless Horseman haunted house. I might even have featured it here in years past. Sounds great, I’m very envious. No, I have no interest in the extreme attractions at all. Or rather no interest in actually going to them, at least. I did finish ‘Bosun’, and it’s super highly recommended. Very excellent news about the support for your writing at school! Take it hugely to heart. And here’s hoping the Wednesday writing meet-and-greet is lauding central. You sound good, my friend. That’s wonderful. Have as good as or even a much better week than I even do. ** Sypha, Ha. I did not know that about how bees die so quickly indoors. That’s very poignant as well as interesting. Perhaps I’ll write a poem about it. It sounds like the makings of an epic poem. ** Okay. The Halloween season would not be complete without a lot of guns, fake guns and a few real ones. N’est pas? See you tomorrow.


  1. William

    Yeah, I used to know some people who used to be friends with him. People treated him pretty awfully back when the whole weird “anti-emo” thing was at its peak.

    His name’s Francis Lapointe AKA “Frank Wolf”, if yr curious, my dogg.

  2. HaveANiceLife

    Ha, it autofilled out my real name there. Whoops!

  3. Steve Erickson

    When I planned to make a found footage doc about the depths of the Internet, I saw some messed up videos relating to gun culture, like one where someone unboxed a mail order kit allowing you to make a real, working gun with a drill and some other equipment and a video of a 10-year-old kid firing an AR-15 in his dad’s backyard, shot by the dad standing a few feet to the side. (There’s apparently a similar video shot in Las Vegas where the kid slipped up and killed himself.) I also watched “the James Bond Experience” video where that channel’s obsessive host fires all the guns used in that series in 52 minutes, but it’s actually quite dull unless you find it interesting to watch someone fire a Walther PPK at a gun range and say “Wow, this is so cool because it was in 3 James Bond films.” At least he’s being very careful re: safety.

    My film’s editor got sick and our meeting will be postponed till next week. But she thinks she will have a rough cut ready to show me by then.

    I have a busy Thursday. I’m seeing a press screening of the gay “conversion therapy” drama BOY ERASED in the morning, going out to lunch with a friend afterwards then interviewing Joseph Kahn (director of at least 100 music videos and the forthcoming film BODIED, which I saw last night) over the phone at 3 PM. I will try to write a rough draft of my review of BOY ERASED that day.

  4. _Black_Acrylic

    I spent many years working in an actual call centre and Joana Vasconcelos’s piece is enough to bring me out in the heebie jeebies. Although her symphony is actually a lot more bearable than the real thing.

    Today I was looking around online at some different inks for screenprinting a glittery or pearlescent effect later this year. Not sure what the exact idea is yet but it’s gonna be something very pop, I imagine. Once there’s time and space available then I’m keen to get in the workshop and try things out.

  5. Jamie

    Hey Dennis.
    Beautiful Guns day! I’d really like to see some of those Robert Lazzarini pieces up close and irl. And Call Center is fucking immense! You know I took a fancy a few months ago that I’d like to fire a gun and started looking up places nearby where I could do so and the the photos of the things you got to shoot with looked more like that gun up above made out of a typewriter than a gun gun, which put me off. Also I’m now completely disinterested in firing a gun so I guess it was a passing fad. Charles Gitnick seems like a nice guy. Wow to that Burt Barr film. That slow pan is kind of divine. I LOVE Niki de Saint Phalle’s set of instructions. I’m Googling her straight after this. Lol at Kurt Cobong and the attached story. Omg to the Chris Burden’s Shoot.
    How are you? Did you manage to get into the TV script? Did you have a good time with Kier?
    I’m now on page 74 of Horror Film and nothing scary has happened yet. Oops.
    Good shout on the Charles Ray show at the Pompidou! As of next year it’ll be a lot easier for me to visit Paris, so colour me definitely coming to that.
    Did Tuesday surprise me? I got out of work an hour earlier than I was meant to, so I’ll claim that as a subtle but pleasant surprise. How about you, any surprises?
    How’s Wednesday shaping up? Hope it’s like one big sweet slice of carrot cake that seems to have been way too generously frosted.
    I’ve only seen Ryan Gosling in a couple of movies and I didn’t think he was very good but I suspect he might be a nice guy in real life love,

  6. Misanthrope

    William, Is Frank Wolf the legendary guy who committed suicide or faked his suicide or something? I say “faked” because I think there are people who think he’s still alive and didn’t really do it? And wasn’t he friends with Chris Dakota at some point, who is still alive and has had his pics swiped by these escorts before too?

    Dennis, Okay, yes, see above. Frank Wolf. I recognized him, couldn’t put the name to him. An interesting story. I just researched a little more and it seems he did indeed kill himself.

    So this is what I do at the movies: Large popcorn, no (fake) butter, and a large Coke Zero. I eat the whole thing by myself during the movie. Then I usually go out to eat afterwards. I’ll be doing it this weekend. I like sitting in a movie theater with other people and watching a movie. I really think (because I’m an old fuddy duddy and snob) that films are meant to be seen on the big screen, especially the action/superhero ones. I enjoy it.

    Guns is an interesting post for a Halloween post. Lord knows more people are scared of them than they are the devil or whatever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 DC's

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑