The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Meth, coke, junk

Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe and Alexander Singh Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, 2008
‘In 2008, artists Jonah Freeman, Justin Lowe and Alexander Singh collaborated on the project, Hello Meth Lab in the Sun, for Ballroom Marfa. In 2009, the installation travelled to Deitch Projects in New York. Renamed Black Acid Co-Op, the piece lost a few rooms, added some new ones and dropped artist Alexander Singh. Black Acid Co-Op spanned fourteen rooms and three levels of the Wooster Street Deitch Projects gallery. The installation spans the entire gallery space, but transforms it into a winding labyrinth of interconnected hallways and rooms.’


Hermione Stavros a personal tribute to Mia Wallace’s heroin overdose, 2017


Rob Pruitt Cocaine Buffet Grand Prix, 1998
Cocaine Buffet Grand Prix, a line of cocaine stretching down the middle of a 16-feet mirror was both minimalist floor work and generous offering to anyone inquisitive enough to get down on their knees and be photographed snorting its contents.’


Darren Bader Lasagna on Heroin, 2012
‘Bader is best known for his 2012 piece “Lasagna on Heroin,” which is exactly what it sounds like: a piece of lasagna injected with heroin. “We bought the Lasagna from Marks and Spencer and the heroin from a dealer”, said the gallerist, Sadie Cole.’


Duane Hanson Drug Addict, 1974
Fiberglass and polyester resin, oil paint, and mixed media


David Shrigley Cocaine & Heroin Salt and Pepper Shakers, 2016
‘Get your daily dose with these salt and pepper shakers from Third Drawer Down. The irregular shapes and daring designs are sure to make an impact at your next dinner party.’


Fred Fuchs Meth Lab in Space, 2011
‘High above the online Second Life region called The Unknown is a small dark island floating in the upper stratosphere, which is an unlikely location to build a meth lab. Unless, say, you’re roleplaying a drug dealer with a dirigible- or as it turns out in this case, you’re a metaverse developer who wants to demonstrate SL’s utility as a simulation training tool for individuals who need to recognize real meth labs.

‘Fred Fuchs (the NASA contractor), has done what no meth lab cook has ever done before. He has taken a meth lab to the final frontier, where no police have ever been before. Yet, that is exactly what he wants law enforcement agents to do. Find his meth lab. Fuchs wants all cops to know – when it comes to meth labs, they should expect the unexpected. Fuchs has hidden his meth lab so well, that even the DEA would have a hard time finding it or the pre-cursor chemicals or cooked meth that are located inside his lab.

‘Floating far above universities, corporate headquarters, and other buildings lies Fuch’s unreachable and untouchable meth lab, in a space where no one would think about investigating – in space. If the pigs are lucky enough to find out how to get to Second Life, they still have to find the lab, which might have asking other people on Second Life about where he is. The lab is located high above Firesabre headquarters, though experienced SL explorers will know how to find it: direct SLurl teleport at this link.’


Franz West Twenty Years of Heroin, 2005
Papier-mâché, styrofoam, steel, acrylic, lacquer


Diddo ecce animal, 2014
‘In a rare and unconventional application of an artistic medium, dutch artist Diddo has sculpted a full-scale representation of a human skull out of street cocaine. ‘ecce animal’ has been meticulously crafted from the illegal powdery drug, formed in the same proportions and mimicking the biological characteristics as its skeletal source of reference. To verify the purity of the accumulated narcotic, the artist sent his materials off to a research lab who analyzed and determined its ingredients — the findings revealed that it was, in fact, cocaine, yet ‘further constituent components identified included phenacetin, caffeine, paracetamol and 
a relative large percentage of sugars.’ the sculpture intends to provoke thought and conversation about the nature of man, particularly our participation in society and the tension it often shares with our genetic makeup. an accompanying poem by Diddo delves into the intended interpretations and conclusions one might take away from this piece.’


Graham MacIndoe All In, 2014
‘When the photographer and fine artist Graham MacIndoe found a batch of about 30 heroin bags in his personal storage, he was understandably a bit alarmed. He had been an addict years ago, and finding them threw him off. Although he had ideas about using them for art, he was hesitant to take them out of storage and back to his studio, as he would risk being arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. After the last time he was arrested several years ago, MacIndoe spent four months in Rikers Island, which eventually led him to rehab. He’s been clean ever since.

‘Later, MacIndoe found a second batch of about 50 to 60 glassine bags stashed in a book. He decided to bring them to his studio along with the others, and when he got them there, he laid them out in front of him. A flood of memories came back: “I got these flashbacks of who used to sell what and where, the dealers, the users, all the people, places and things from that time. I wondered whether the dealer or addict was dead, or had been arrested, some very visceral moments came back to me. It was a real jolt to my memory, as I had put that all in the past,” Graham told me. The result of all this is All In: Buying int​o the Drug Trade, a book of images of the baggies that he collected over the course of his addiction.’


Jeremy Shaw Degenerative Imaging (3 Years Meth), 2015
‘This is part of a whole series of scans displaying the cumulative effects of substance abuse, alcohol, meth – even in one case dementia – on the human brain. The source material for the work comes from 3-D SPECT scan renderings of blood flow and metabolic activity in numerous brains and were inspired by the glow-in-the-dark star and planet stickers you have as a child. But as the artists says himself, the science is “a little dodgy” and can any of these really be considered scientific valid?’


Michael Auder My Last Bag of Heroin (For Real), 1986
‘Michel Auder’s films, which span in length from five minutes to multiple hours, are all edited from the thousands of hours of footage the artist has casually shot throughout his life. Early on, Auder made a habit of carrying portable video-recording equipment on a daily basis, and so amassed a biographical reel that frequently captured his fellow artists in the New York art scene, including such personalities as Cindy Sherman, Larry Rivers, and, most famously, Alice Neel.’


Cornelia Parker Exhaled Cocaine, 2019
‘British artist Cornelia Parker has made it her life’s work to turn the unpalatable and dangerous into objects of repurposed beauty. This weekend, the first major Australian survey of Parker’s work opens, minus one important sculptural work, Exhaled Cocaine, that could not be brought to Australia. Forming part of Parker’s Avoided Objects series, which takes dangerous objects and renders them benign, the missing work comprises ashes of cocaine confiscated from a drug bust that has been burnt after seizure. The MCA’s chief curator Rachel Kent had hoped that the incinerated contraband could have been exhibited in Sydney but it couldn’t be imported or sourced locally for Parker to recreate her work. In London and in Lima, Peru, police and forensics agencies permitted this work to be shown using their own local contraband.’


Harland Miller Heroin, It’s What Your Right Arm’s For, 2012
‘Miller’s practice has developed in tandem with his love for books – both as sculptural objects in their own right and as the carriers of humor, irony, and emotion. For over a decade, Miller has been painting fictional covers for imaginary Penguin paperbacks, based on the original color block covers that were used to denote genre.’


Terence Koh Untitled (Mountains), 2006
‘Sculptures, mixed media, styrofoam base with fiberglass coating, with cocaine, white chocolate, wax, paint and part of the artist’s soul in each part.’


Unknown Antique cocaine silver snuff box with spoon, ?
‘This great looking container is variously composed of brass, copper, silver or bronze , a mixture and has been cast, engraved and inlaid with a chain and spoon attached.’


Domenic Esposito FDA Spoon, 2019
‘We will place The Opioid Spoon sculpture, created by artist/activist Domenic Esposito, founder of The Opioid Spoon Project on the doorsteps of corporations and individuals whose recklessness and irresponsibility have fueled the epidemic, publicly explaining their complicity and holding them accountable for their actions.’


Break the glass installation.


Jac Leirner Junkie, 2016
‘Jac Leirner’s solo exhibition takes a simpler approach to drug use and dependence. Represented as neither a moralising tale nor a necessary side effect of genius, simply a collection of discarded ephemera purportedly collected over several years and assembled during a drug binge in 2010. It is the minimalism of the first piece, an installation entitled The End and constructed from steel cables which cross over one another across the room, hung with cigarette ends, roaches, and other articles, which is evocative in its simplicity and its obstinacy; moving around the room is difficult when the art is hanging by a thread. The lower ground floor contains several plywood boards on which multicoloured rolling paper packets are mounted, as well as prints of rocks of methedrine sculpted into heart and head shapes, placed amongst various objects, both sinister and banal; coins, knives, stones, dice and blood-soaked bandage.’


Erin M. Riley Gateway Drugs, 2010
‘Erin Riley can be described as a visual reporter for her generation. She observes her world and contemporary culture through social media, gathers images from the internet and translates them into tapestries that are often tragic, provocative, and certainly disturbing. Much of her subject matter has to do with young women involved with drugs, drunkenness, and sexual encounters.’


Ryan McGinley Sniffing, Smoking, 2014
‘We’d do every drug under the sun, we would drink as much as possible, we’d get home at six in the morning or later and I would then get up to go to work. A couple times I would wake up to find him really high on cocaine, cutting his arms. Being young and in love and in the first relationship can feel a little crazy.’


Larry Clark Heroin, 2014
‘“I had gone through a series of spine operations in December 2013, after The Smell of Us,” remarks Clark when I inquire about his explosive Heroin painting series. “They were terrible operations; I could have died. They spliced my throat and had to put 12 titanium screws in my spine, and then I had a second operation where both my knees were replaced, probably from learning to skateboard in my forties. So I had to recuperate for a year and the doctors gave me loads and loads of opiates. I became one of the millions of people in America addicted to opiates because the doctors had prescribed them. When they stopped giving them to me and I began to withdraw from the drugs, it reminded me of when I was a heroin addict. So I made the paintings called ‘Heroin’.”‘


Nelson Pernisco CRYSTAL METH. 2017.
‘A disco ball rotates on itself at the end of a long chain. On the floor, the crushed mirrors create a thin glass dust.’


Mat Collishaw This is Not an Exit, 2012
‘Collishaw seeks to recreate the simple folded paper utilized by drug dealers as a carrying pouch for cocaine and other powdered drugs. True to form, many of the paintings on view bear faint traces of white powder, as if they had been plucked directly from the pocket of a recent buyer. As these images and symbols coalesce, a more sinister, bacchanalian portrait emerges: decadence layered over desire, and laced with the economic implications of both the illicit drug trade and the relentless cannibalization of the fashion world. Collishaw’s work delves into this poetic juxtaposition, maximizing the immediately familiar grid of the abstract work to delve deeply into cultural signifiers.’


Anthony Moman Mickey Finn, 2017
‘I have not been entirely idle during the long, hot summer instead I have been sketching out images that would work as sculptures. I have finally realized my dream to create a sculpture of a childhood icon – Mickey Mouse, but using syringes. He is still cheeky and lovable.’


Hélio Oiticica Block-Experiments in Cosmococa, 1973
‘To produce the photographs for the installations, Oiticica appropriated himself of various references from popular culture, Rock music and his own cultural background and estranged the images by drawing on them with cocaine.’




p.s. Hey. ** Misanthrope, There’s one Jimmy Eat World song I like, but it’s not ‘The Middle’. I can’t remember its title. But yeah, I mean I don’t care at all about Blink 182, for instance, but there’s one song of theirs that I love and which even gives me chills: ‘Stay Together For the Kids’. Have no idea why. Just hits my mysterious zeitgeist. ** Dominik, Hi!!! My pleasure about the Eileen post, of course. Oh, well, I’ve been vegetarian since I was 15, and every once in a while ever since, I switch to vegan. I’m vegan now, although I break it when I eat out with friends. I guess it’s more of a self-purifying gesture or something than getting skinny, although I do like how I feel when I’m skinny. And, yeah, like you said, I like the mission and self-disciplining part of it. And maybe because writing involves a lot of self-disciplining, it feels comfortable and even sort of borderline exciting to do that. Strange, huh? I hope your first shot today goes off without a hitch. My first one was like nothing. Coincidentally, I get my second shot today, and they say it might not be as easy peasy. Big luck to us both then! It would be fun to try to mindfuck your love by asking him questions that no quotes from that film could answer and see what he does. Love that makes each of our shots today as inconsequential as if they were given by little kids with pretend/toy hypodermics, G. ** _Black_Acrylic, Thanks, Ben. Her poetry is mega-stellar. ** T, Hey, hey. Well, my yesterday ended up being enigmatic in an oppositional sense unfortunately as, first, we postponed the Wang Bing trip because my friend Zac had something he needed to do, and then we were standing in line to enter the gig when Brigitte Fontaine cancelled — not the most giant surprise since she’s extremely old — so we instead saw what was supposed to be her opening act — a guy doing very mediocre percussion at great length. But I did run into a bunch of friends there, so that was nice. I think your face-down with the Georgian takes the enigmatic cake, and I cede the crown to you. Weird, haunting, at least in description. The Wang Bing thing is an exhibit of photos and clips and ephemera with some short films shown, but they’re doing a retrospective off his big films at the Cinematheque starting soon, so I’ll see some there. Today I get my second vaccine jab and then I’ll see art with friends and book shop and have dinner with them if, that is, I don’t get whomped with immediate side effects, fingers crossed. Drugs for the weekend! I suspect your weekend will have mine beat hands down from the outset, but, hey, you never know. Enjoy today’s Zooming preamble. ** G, Hi, G! Yeah, Eileen’s amazing, no question in the world. ‘Inferno’ is terrific, very recommended. You good? You have a weekend among weekends ahead of you, do you think? xo. ** David Ehrenstein, Ha ha. ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T!!!! Me too, big time, of course. You good? Lots of love to you, mighty friend! ** Right. Today is today is today. I get my second vaccine jab this afternoon, so, assuming I don’t wake up as a zombie with a high fever or something, I will see you tomorrow.


  1. Love those Shrigley shakers, he always delivers the goods. I exhibited a line as part of my Degree Show at Dundee art school back in 2004, and was advised by staff to substitute it with baking powder. An enthusiastic attendee still snorted the “sculpture” anyway on opening night.

    The Play Therapy comeback continues here online via Tak Tent Radio! Ben ‘Jack Your Body’ Robinson brings you House, Proto-Cold Wave, Psychedelic Dub strangeness and much more besides.

  2. Hi!!

    Vaccine or no vaccine, I can’t let a post like this go without a word. I can’t feel anything yet, anyway; it’s only been like three hours for me. How are you? I keep my fingers very crossed for both of us!

    So. The post is obviously an instant favorite for me. I’ve always loved “Heroin, It’s What Your Right Arm’s For,” but I’ve never known the artist, so thank you for this especially!

    I really understand what you mean. I mean, I can completely see what being vegetarian/vegan might give you. Strangely, when I came out of anorexia, I lost the ability to discipline myself when it comes to food. I mean, I eat perfectly normally now (and the funny thing is that I’m only a couple pounds heavier now than I was when I was starving), but as soon as I try to follow any kind of “rule,” my mind kind of goes into this panic and I fuck it all up immediately. As if my body were still afraid, on some very deep level, that I’ll end up starving again, even though I know I won’t.

    Hehe, I think we should try and mindfuck my Kevin love but only when no crossbows are around. Thank you for your love! This is going to be one of those rare occasions when I send the exact same love right back! Or. Almost the exact same. Love turning both our possible side-effects into soft, silver glitter we simply shed as we breathe, Od.

  3. Dennis, Day “Nice”!
    Brigitte Fontaine? Brigitte Fucking Fontaine???!!! Yayssus Christur, that’s some grade-A CULT-ure action over there buddy! What an absolute ledge, as they say over here. WAIT! I was reading yesterday’s blog. And now I can see today’s and she *cancelled*? Awww man. What a letdown. Shit. Well that’s sad. I went from being very jealous to very sorry there in a space of a few minutes. Empathy whiplash!
    Speaking of legends (and empathy), Eileen Myles. “And language is the thrill that holds the unknown in its vague and shifting ways. That’s writing.” Swoon. When I grow up, can I be as cool as Eileen? Please? I have the shaggy hair and the love of dogs already, not far to go, right?
    Well, anyway! How are you D? Long time no “see”…. Not too pooped after vax 2.0? What’s Paris like? Planning a little trip to London anytime soon? I kid, I would not recommend it. Yet. But hugs are allowed now so here’s some fake ones: (( ! ))

  4. Hey Dennis – Enjoyed the Eileen Myles post yesterday. And this drug post is a thrill. Love Freeman and Lowe’s installations — at the least the documentation I’ve seen — the way they imbed trace amounts of narrative into the work. Hope to see one of them live someday. Have you ever experienced one?

    Nice to see Hélio Oiticica ‘s work in here. His installations are another favorite. The Coke Grand Prix was fun, too. I had no idea Larry Clark was making paintings — and they’re better than I would’ve guessed. Has he been painting for a while?

    Hope your second shot goes off without a hitch. And interested to know about the Wang Bing films when you see them. Been curious about his movies but never caught any of them.

    Glad you and Zac will be going to LA soon to prep for the movie. Have you talked with Michael S lately? Spoke with him a few months back and he mentioned he was eager to have you on the show for the new novel.

  5. I haven’t come across Terence Koh in years. (Don’t click on the link on his wikipedia page that looks like his website; it’s not.) I like the little Jac Leirner pieces, and that FDA spoon.

    Hope you’re feeling ok after shot #2, Dennis. I’m still getting used to all this gallivanting (relatively) around reopened SF. The Sparks doc is sold out, so I’m not the only one.


  6. maggie siebert

    June 11, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    oh my goodness i was just talking about ‘hello meth lab’ with some friends the other night! really interesting installation, would have loved to have seen it. brings back my childhood nightmares resulting from being exposed to a barrage of montana meth project ads, aka probably the most insidious anti drug ad campaign of all time. of all the reasons i can’t stand aronofsky that’s probably the biggest. hope your covid shot goes well — i got my second moderna about six weeks ago and had the craziest fever in years. praying the same fate doesn’t befall you.

  7. Dennis, So are you saying we should all start doing meth, coke, and junk right now?! RIGHT NOW?!!

    I’m kidding.

    I’m about to listen to that Blink 182 song right now. Was earlier listening to the Real McCoys’ “Another Night,” which gives me joy for some unkown reason, hahaha.

    Pissed that I put an “s” on “Eat” yesterday between “Jimmy” and “World.” Realized it when I hit “Post Comment.” Shit like that bugs me, hahaha.

    Going to my friend’s tomorrow evening. Her daughter just graduated middle school. Why it’s being celebrated, I don’t know, but I’m up for hanging out. Kayla’s going with me. Pretty sure I’ve mentioned these people before. The daughter’s best friend Hunter and his mom will be there too. I get on well with them. Should be fun.

    Rest of the weekend is errands and artsy fartsy stuff. 😮

    Have a good weekend yourself.

  8. Good luck with the vaccine! May your body spare you the “vaccine flu.”

    My interview with Lizzie Borden went great! She was extremely talkative and friendly, giving 10-minute answers to some of my questions. (I had far more prepared than I had time to ask.) We talked for more than an hour. I will probably have to edit the transcript down for publication. I’m not totally sure, but the Brooklyn Rail will likely publish this in its Sept. issue.

    I am also working on an article on the “kink at Pride” discourse for Gay City News. Is there a Pride parade taking place in Paris this year?

    A supplement to this day, Rich the Kid’s “Plug Walk” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToY6sjSV8h8&ab_channel=RichTheKidRichTheKid. The song’s awful, but the video, in which he imagines himself in a meth lab based on BREAKING BAD partying with an alien, arrives at a kind of accidental genius.

  9. EM is amazing, indeed! I would love to meet them one day. I think we’d get on. Do you also recommend For Now (Why I Write)? I have a feeling it’ll be essential reading for me.

    Yeah, I can’t complain about my weekends, or indeed my weekdays anymore. Since my brother’s come here, I’m just another person – as J put it. Every day is pleasurable, and I’m just relaxed and happy. We just hang, and everything feels right. Last night we got drunk on wine, and I read him the beginning of The Sluts as he was falling asleep. And I still managed to make it to my work stuff this morning. Oh, one of my friends just gifted me an antique-looking edition of JERK! With the bright red hardback cover. Stunner!

    I really hope the second jab went as smoothly as possible? I hope you haven’t become ‘a zombie with a high fever or something’ – you’re too sublime. Big kiss.

  10. Dennis arre you familiar with THIS ? Fassbinder wanter to make a film adaptation, but was too Coked Out to do so.

    Cue JerryGarcia!

  11. Hey, Dennis,

    Quite a poetic and fitting association of subjects today, tackled by all of the artists with great brio: charming, unsettling, funny, sad, weird. The Harland Miller is my favorite for some reason. And yesterday’s Eileen Myles post, and Trisha Donnelly too—both wonderful. Round of applause. Okay, cool, “Pleasure Dome” will be my next Anger, and I will resolutely avoid his post-seventies stuff. Got it. I’ve had a good two nights for movies. Last night me, my brother, and two friends went into the city to see “Cruising” at the Quad Cinema. It was tons of fun. Foolishly I wore a leather jacket despite the summer weather, because I felt I had to dress for the occasion, but fortunately it wasn’t too hot so I managed. We had a great time. And then tonight I watched Cronenberg’s “Crash”. I have to admit I really loved it, despite everything that’s been said against it. What’s your take on Cronenberg? Can’t recall if we’ve talked about him before. I think he’s always at least interesting, even when I sort of hate the movie (“Cosmopolis”), and when he’s in horror mode he can be great fun. Anyway it’s been a great and wild two nights of viewing. Nothing much else going on, but maybe the weekend will bring some nice surprises. For you and me both, god (or whoever) willing.

  12. District of Cooper: Holy wow! That walk-through meth-lab installation. The holes blasted into the gallery walls! Capital G Godhead. thanx and luvz, Jak.

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