The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Inflatables *

* (restored)

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Audrius Bučas & Valdas Ozarinskas Black Pillow (2012)
Black Pillow is a collaborative project by two Lithuanian architects and artists Audrius Bučas & Valdas Ozarinskas. The project features one main object—a huge inflatable black pillow. Impossible to be grasped in its entirety, the black pillow leaves spectators wondering about its real size, shape, and other material qualities.

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James Lomax Untitled [Me and My Friend] (2011)
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the preserved skins of exotic animals from faraway lands were brought back to Europe by explorers. The hides would be handed over to taxidermists whose job it was to prepare them for display by stuffing the skins and giving them a life-like appearance. However, the taxidermists often just had to guess at the shape and appearance of these unfamiliar animals based on crude sketches and descriptions, resulting in grotesque physical distortions which would appear unsettling to the modern eye. James Lomax’s Untitled [Me and My Friend] disturbs and captivates me in the same way that this kind of grotesque taxidermy does. Created as a haunting tribute to a close friend who passed away in tragic circumstances, the work is comprised of two latex casts of the artist’s body. The perpetually distorted figures inflate and deflate at random intervals, giving them an unpredictable life and death cycle accompanied by the menacing mechanical scream of the inflation device. Like the distorted animal skins, James’ deflated bodies are re-animated into bizarre caricatures of their former selves, reshaped into an uncomfortable state between living and dead.

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Schellekens & Peleman The Inflatable Refugee (2015)
Coinciding with the current migration crisis from East to West, Schellekens & Peleman have started work on The Inflatable Refugee. A large inflatable adult male figure that represents a seated refugee. The Inflatable Refugee gazes blankly into the distance. Has he arrived at a safe haven or will he be refused and be sent from whence he came? His sheer size allows him to look over and beyond us and keep watch on the horizon, not limited by borders or documents. It makes him inescapable, undeniably present. Do we see him as a human or as a problem? Is his presence an opportunity or a threat, devoid of human characteristics? Schellekens & Peleman proportionally enlarged the ‘Inflatable Refugee’ to match the extreme reactions his arrival in the Western world evoked. His size represents how we perceive him.

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Tom Dale Department of the Interior (2014)
Department of the Interior is a 6.5m high black leatherette bouncy castle that echoes the towers and crenellations of Parliament with an absurdity that mocks its claim for authority. It is a sculpture that is simultaneously seductive and repulsive; its form and the space within no longer the preserve of inclusive childish pleasures. They speak instead of adult power games and BDSM practices that are normally played out in spaces concealed from public view. In spite of the castle’s tactile allure, visitors are strictly forbidden to enter and bounce, forcing them instead to imagine who or what might have that privilege and why.

 

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Haus-Rucker-Co Oasis Nr. 7 (1972)
‘Oase No. 7 was created for Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany. An inflatable structure emerged from the façade of an existing building creating a space for relaxation and play.’

 

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Paweł Althamer Self Portrait (1989/2013)
This unique take on a self-portrait floats in the Zacheta Gallery in Bruges, Belgium. In 2007, a version of this work floated over a park in Milan.

 

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Choi Jeong Hwa Breathing Flower (2012)
The piece is called “Breathing Flower,” and if you watch it move, you can see why.

 

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Momoyo Torimitsu Somehow I Don’t Feel Comfortable (2000)
A bunny is one of the stereotyped images of cuteness: an innocent, pure, small something that should be protected. I wanted to present this cute image distorted in a way that expresses my feelings when I face my own culture. This oversized bunny I created that looks down on you doesn’t seem cute anymore – it’s kind of disturbing. Another meaning of my bunny installation has to do with what we call “rabbit hutches” in Japan, which refers to our cramped housing situation in the big cities. It was originally coined by a French diplomat who visited Tokyo in early 70’s. This expression remains in Japanese culture today. I wanted visually illustrate Japan’s repressed lifestyle with my cute but cramped creatures. — MT

 

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Lee Boroson Deep Current (2014)
Deep Current, whose materials include inflated plastic balls, blowers, wood, pvc pipe, and fence, is a referential ode to Niagara Falls, the title of which serves as a subtle pun on the word “current,” referencing both water and electricity. What fascinates Boroson is the fact that Niagara Falls is considered a sublime example of nature’s grandeur despite it being a highly engineered and carefully controlled version of nature.

 

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Chad Person Thirst (2010)
Laying here dying, the horse uses each gasping breath to beg for our attention. Having taken the form of a common advertising inflatable, its life-blood oozes, pooling a black slick into which it shall return. His constellation now obscured by air-pollution, and the memory of the mythic beast tarnished beyond repair; ExxonMobil’s reward is not to gift the icon an immortal legacy, but rather to usher it into a quiet oblivion.

 

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Ralph Lichtensteiger Ginkgo (2016)

 

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Kurt Perschke The RedBall Project (2015 – ?)
Perschke’s RedBall Project consists of a 15 ft inflated red ball wedged in different spaces in various cities around the world. The installations last 1-2 weeks, with each particular site lasting only one day. In August 2015, the giant, 250-pound red ball came loose during a rainstorm in Toledo, Ohio and started rolling down a street lined with parked cars. Watch below as minders race to catch it before it does any real damage.

 

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Penique Productions Inflatable balloon installations (2010 – ?)
Penique productions is a Spanish collective of artists of different disciplines focused on a common project which is based on the idea of making ephemeral installations. The starting point of each project is the selection of a location, which will be the place where to build a unique and customized piece. An inflatable balloon that expands and invades the space completely by itself. The balloon grows until it fills the whole space and becomes the part of the existing architecture. The air, acting like the structure, presses against the plastic that faces the outline of the solid limiting and shaping the final form. Conquered by the inflatable, the place is transformed through the new texture, light and monochrome color.

 

 

 

 

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Mark Leckey This Kolossal Kat, that Massive MOG (2016)
The artist’s giant inflatable Felix and his 2008 16mm film of the cat’s tail are showcased in the show. Felix takes on a number of roles in Leckey’s work, including as a motif for broadcasting, and as an avatar for the artist, for whom the idea of turning into a cat is something that incites both fear and desire.

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Oscar Oiwa Oiwa Island 2 (2016)
Housed within an 40-foot inflatable dome inside of a former soy sauce factory, Oscar Oiwa‘s Oiwa Island 2 is an immersive drawings that takes up the entirety of the circular space. The 360-degree drawing includes natural imagery, placing visitors in a black and white world with a detailed forest containing a cabin on the shore of a beach. The drawing is fairly realistic until one reaches the water, where the patterns of the waves become increasingly abstract. The door of the cabin in this elaborate mural doubles as the actual door for the dome, creating an even more immersive effect when you enter the gigantic space.

 

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Erwin Wurm The artist who swallowed the world (2006)

 

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Clive Murphy Trash Bag Inflatables (2005 – ?)
This is a an ongoing series of installation works dating from 2005 which comprise of site-specific architecturally orientated inflatable constructions created from adjoined black domestic trash bags. A number of these works have been kinetic, where the air blower has had an automatic timer attached which makes the structures rise and fall on a pre-set cycle. I wanted to make inflatables that didn’t look like inflatables, but closer to monumental minimalist structures. Trash bags ended up being the perfect material as they readily accesible, both in a logistical and conceptual sense. They are modular. A trash bag is a tube with one end sealed, open that end and add another and another you have an long tubular form. They have a weirdly metallic structural look to them when inflated. The real trick was working out how to make the geometric corners, right angles, multiple joints, etc. I had to adopted the mindset of both an architect and a tailor and create the structures as 3D auto-cad computer designs, then build actual physical models, and then patterns like those of a dress-maker. — CM

 

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Phillip Toledano Inflatable Guantanamo Bay prison cell (2008)
In 2008 when Bush and Cheney were still kicking around the White House and Phillip Toledano released his online installation, America the Giftstop. “We buy souvenirs at the end of a trip, to remind ourselves of the experience. What do we have to remind ourselves of the events of the last eight years?” Toledano said. An artist and photographer, Toledano’s satirical selection of souvenirs from the War on Terror included this life-sized inflatable Guantanamo bay bouncy prison cell.

 

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Wang Yuyang Breathing Office (2009)
Chinese artist Wang Yuyang created an installation that is a life-size replica of an ordinary office, a ‘finance department’, complete with desktop computers, rolling chairs, telephones and other furnishings. The artwork is a piece of Wang Yuyang’s ‘breathing series’. In this case, Wang Yuyang breathes life into ordinary office objects such as garbage cans, fax machines and paper stacks, by recreating them out of silicone and animating them by installing a small motor, which inflates the objects and simulates the breathing.

 

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Ronald van der Meijs Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (2009)
Despite the many problems in the construction of the new North / South metro line in Amsterdam, the city council said they had confidence in the technology, so the construction continues. The city, so the reasoning goes, must continue to evolve and grow. The therm ‘angioplasty’ is used as a metaphor for the underground operations and affairs of the North / South line. The spatial installation in the gallery at Waterloo underground station lies just below the “heart” of the city. The installation is a large, pulsating tube structure, in the form of an underground pipe and metaphor for the human angioplasty. to solve the blood vessel problem. The structure is made out of plastic bags – a symbol of consumerism that the economy is still increasing pumping. The installation generates a cracking sound because of the crispy plastic bags.

 

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Michio Koshino various (1987 – ?)
One of the most intriguing items renowned clothing designer Koshino marketed under her name was the first inflatable fabric.

 

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Corey Whyte Santa Wreath (Black, 2014)

 

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Michael Parekowhai Jim McMurtry (2006)
Jim McMurtry is an enormous, 12 metres long and 4.5 metres wide, cartoon rabbit. Jim McMurtry lies flat on his back with one eye closed and his tongue hanging out. Viewers feel unsure as to whether he is dead or is simply taking a nap. Here, Parekowhai reminds us of the rabbit’s considerable and destructive impact on New Zealand when it was introduced in the nineteenth century. It may have similarities to a cute Walt Disney or Beatrix Potter creation but Jim McMurtry raises questions about a particular point in New Zealand’s past and more specifically about Colonialism.

 

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Jimmy Kuehnle Wiggle, Giggle, Jiggle (2016)

 

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AZC Saut de Seine (?)
Instead of crossing bridges by walking or by riding a car, why can’t we bounce or flip our way across instead? This is what architecture firm AZC had in mind when they submitted a proposal to build an inflatable trampoline bridge for pedestrians to cross the Seine. The structure involves three inflatable doughnut-like rings with mesh trampolines stretched across each one, allowing pedestrians to bounce their way to the other side of the river. It also provides people two options upon reaching the end of the bridge: to exit by way of a staircase or by way of a slide.

 

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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer Last Breath (2012)
Last Breath is an installation designed to store and circulate the breath of a person forever. The piece consists of a small brown paper bag which inflates and deflates automatically thanks to motorized bellows similar to those found in artificial respirators in hospitals. The apparatus hangs on a wall and is activated 10,000 times a day, the typical respiratory frequency for an adult at rest, including 158 sighs. Each stroke of the machine advances a digital counter that beeps. The breath circulates between the bellows and the paper bag through a ribbed transparent plastic tube that emits a faint and hypnotic low sound. The tube can be as large as necessary to either hang the bag right beside the piece, on the same wall, or to create a labyrinth on the ceiling of the exhibition that ends with the bag suspended in the middle of the room. The brown paper bag makes a rhythmic crushing sound as it inflates and deflates. As a biometric portrait, the piece requires careful curation, and the question of who gets stored should be in itself an interesting debate. The portrait should work as a living memorial of a senior respected artist, ideally a poet, singer or dancer. A small video of the person blowing into the bag is exhibited beside the apparatus. The first copy of the piece stores the breath of Cuban singer Omara Portuondo. The piece is currently on tour but eventually will be exhibited by the National Museum of Music in Cuba: after she dies people will be able to visit her “Last Breath” there.

 

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Unknown Ba Di (2015)
Parents in China looking for a way to teach their children about the birds and the bees can now take them to a special sex education playground inside an enormous inflatable doll. The attraction also features a ball pit, slide and climbing area. The doll, which has green hair and pink lips and wears jeans and a white strap top, can be entered through the right heel and exited via the left. Cartoon images are displayed inside the legs to teach children about sex. The inflatable, nicknamed Ba Di, has appeared at Wanda Plaza commercial complex in eastern China’s Nanjing city.

 

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Jim Green Whoopie Cushions (2010)

 

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Tam Wai Ping Falling into the Mundane World (2013)
After a fantastic fall, a cockroach and round-bottomed woman have landed headfirst on the promenade.

 

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Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann Comfort #8 (2010)
Couple and artist team Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann have been collaborating since 1990. They create large scale inflatable architecture and urban landscape installations frequently experimenting with gravity. This site-specific project, circumscribed by the architecture and tradition of Galeria Foksal, represented a sort of homage to a space that had been a center of the Polish avant-garde in the sixties and continues to function as an artist-run space to this day. Seven parallel air-filled tubes installed along the walls of the gallery traced the outline of the space and reproduced its contours. The soft and bulging textile surface of the walls and the glow of the color gold transformed the visitor’s sense of the space by distorting the dimensions and acoustics of this storied gallery.

 

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Kirsten Pieroth Inflated Dinghy (2009)
In Kirsten Pieroth’s work a rubber dinghy is gradually inflated by an accordionist playing a harmonica.

 

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Joshua Allen Harris Bears (2008)
On the streets of New York, Joshua Allen Harris creates inflatable animals by tying plastic shopping bags to the subway grates.

 

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Claire Ashley Various (2013 – 2016)
‘Ashley’s work investigates inflatables as painting, sculpture, installation and performance costume. These works have been exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries, museums, and site-specific installations, performances and collaborations.’

 

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Malena Barnhart Natural Skin Color Inflatable Love Doll (2018)
‘The type of blow-up doll Barnhart used for her piece is sold online as a sex toy. Its physical properties include exaggerated breasts and an oddly placed opening on the lower torso.’

 

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Alexsandra Mir Plane Landing (2003)
Plane Landing is an event: the production of the balloon, its travel to new destinations, the inflation, its ‘landing’ and the documentation of all these parts constitute the artwork.

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** Jamie, Hi, Jamie. If you think you actually want to come to the event, let me know. I think they said we would have a list to put guests on. It’s free with RSVP, and I’m not sure if it’ll fill up quickly or not. But I think there’ll be a way for you to see it otherwise eventually. It’s just still little too early to tell how. ‘Kindertotenlieder’s’ last performance is tomorrow night. ‘The Wild Boys’ is my favorite Burroughs. My Thursday half-sucked, for reasons I don’t want to go into, and was half-nice: saw friends, hung out, ate nachos. Of course I am naturally inclined to urge you towards that cartoon idea, but what do I know? I do, nonetheless. Ha ha, thanks for the wished for breezy and/or buffeting Friday. I’ll take either. I have my first virtual book launch thing tonight, so maybe I’ll hope for the breezy option. I hope your Friday sings to you like Tiny Tim or Gram Parsons, your choice. Love, me.** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, cool, that I managed to light up your fave Burroughs. Such a good title too. Granted I’m a cheap date when it comes to haunted house attractions, but I would say go for it, and if I manage to find a less ‘professional’ one in my searching, I’ll hook you up. Oh, I love that ant plate too, it’s true. It was hard too choose between it and the scalp ripper. I might just join Instagram to be your love’s recipient. Thank you. Love starting a very popular TikTok channel devoted to his intricate Deleuzian analysis of every syllable of every bit of content in every issue of SCAB, G. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yes, Allen had a moment of wisdom there, amazing. ** chris dankland, Hi, Chris! Excellence itself to see you, man! Aw, thank you so very much about ‘I Wished’. I’m completely thrilled to hear that. Questions, okay, I’ll do my best. George was 12 years old when I met him, and he was in 6th grade. The last section is dated 1976 just because I was channeling how I would have felt at that point. That was the year that he and I consummated our long standing more-than-friendship feelings for each other, and we mistakenly thought we would begin having a relationship at that point, as he had just graduated from high school and intended to go to the university that I was then attending, a plan which was then thwarted by his parents’ refusal to pay to let him enrol there due to their irrational fear of his and my friendship. So it was a fraught time. As for the Russian thing, because George was a fictional character in the Cycle, I wanted to start the novel with a section where I evolved him gradually from a fully fictional character into his real self. As best I can recall, I think I at least partly chose Russia, etc. because when I was in Russia, I was very interested by the overdubbing thing I mention in that section and wanted to work with that particular kind of obscuring, and probably other reasons I don’t recall. Thank you, Chris. That section you mentioned where he and I met is the only section in the novel that completely true and nonfictional, an exact and truthful recounting of our first meeting as best as my memory could reconstruct it. I know, Halloween! At long last! I hope you have some awesome Halloween stuff planned. If you need me to hunt down haunted house attractions in your area, say the word. Big love, me. ** Bill, Oh, cool. I’ll talk to Zac about that and see what he thinks. After this upcoming feature film, it would be nice to do something short and Hsuian. Bill Jones and I were quite good pals in the mid-late 90s, but I haven’t talked to him in ages for no good reason. Okay, I think I have to read that book and see how much of it rings true. Hmmmm. ** Okay. This seemed like a good post to restore, liking inflatables as I do, and assuming most people have at least some level of fondness for them. See you tomorrow.

7 Comments

  1. Sheree Rose

    I’m surprised you didn’t include “Boballon”-a 20 foot inflatable of Bob Flanagan (sporting a 4 foot pierced penis) shown in Tokyo, Japan , 1996.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    Andy’s Silver Clouds

  3. Steve Erickson

    I liked CLEANNESS, although its carefully polished style is very “MFA literary fiction,” influenced by Hollinghurst and White. What seems different is its exploration of power – the advantage a queer American man has in Bulgaria, where gayness is far more taboo – and lingering shame in very explicit sex scenes. Like much recent writing (fiction and non-fiction) by women, it suggests that sex positivity is impossible to truly achieve in a homophobic (and sexist, obviously) society (although using BDSM and rough sex as a metaphor for this failure is pretty played out).

    Over the weekend, I plan to watch THE EMPTY MAN again and return to my essay about it. Do you know any good essays on affect theory addressing numbness, fatalism and apathy? THE EMPTY MAN & SMILEY FACE KILLERS seem influenced by both cosmic horror’s literary history and J-horror, especially Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but they feel new to me and I’m having a hard time parsing out exactly why. I’m also struggling to express the flaws of “elevated horror” and its emphasis on text over subtext and content over form without sounding like a reactionary.

  4. _Black_Acrylic

    Always nice seeing Mark Leckey’s inflatable Felix the Cat around the place. Major cultural hero and his Death Of Rave record label has been providing material for my Play Therapy radio show.

    It was a good thing being back doing the Writing Short Stories class again last night. Just making contact with folk after the best part of a year, but also I get on with my tutor so well. A positive feedback junky like me can only be happy in her company. I foresee more texts on the way for sure!

  5. Dominik

    Hi!!

    Sorry, just a very quick love tonight because I’m a little bit like a zombie from work, hah. But I can’t leave your love without a reply. I’m gonna have to join TikTok; I really need to hear all he has to say! Thank you! Love pretty much feeling like one of Joshua Allen Harris’s bears even though he’d much rather feel like the young Leonardo DiCaprio running through a flowery field in The Basketball Diaries, Od.

  6. Jamie

    Damn Dennis, I’d never heard of Tiny Tim before you mentioned him, but my day was most definitely in his voice more than Gram Parsons, as are most of my days, I think. Tiny Tim bears a funny resemblance to John Cale, which kept me amused for the half of his video that I watched.
    How are you? I was at your book launch for some of the time, then my wifi went screwy and I was kind of popping in and out, in a pretty irritating way. How was it for you?
    I would really be up for coming to your haunt thing on the 27th, train permitting. What time is it at?
    I remember loving this post first time round and I loved it again today. I love inflatable things. They do a parade in Brussels every year with a bunch of comic book character inflatables being dragged behind vans, some of them not even making it up into the air, and when I saw it a couple of years ago I had tears in my eyes. So bad, but amazing, like a US parade where the inflatables have never been renewed.
    Hope you have a good weekend. What are your plans? We’re going to Hannah’s parents to watch the last James Bond film, to see if we do actually want to see the new one in the cinema, like I’ve been oddly hankering after, then to a climate protest on Sunday.
    May your weekend be more Julie Doucet than John Byrne.
    Love, Jamie

  7. Bill

    Those James Lomax pieces are so beautiful and creepy. Also love the air bears.

    You’ve had Saeborg here before. I believe she also inflates her creatures to get that bouncy effect.

    I’m repairing some old pieces for my first gig in 20 months. I’ve almost forgotten how this feels like, haha.

    Bill

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