The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Sleep

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Chris Burden Bed Piece, 1970
‘In Bed Piece, Burden worked within the conventional framework of a gallery exhibition space. He was provided with a single bed and during the opening went to bed. During the 22 days of the show, Burden spoke to no one and was provided with food, water, and toilet facilities. “In statements about Bed Piece, Burden remarked that the first few days were extremely strenuous and painful, but by the second week the days passed pleasurably…so that by the end of the show he was loathe to get up. Within the plain walls of the gallery, a cumulative lethargy bordering on an ecstatic death wish transmitted an energetic tension that forced Robert Irwin to leave his studio next door.’

 

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Louise Bourgeois Seven in Bed, 2001
‘The nude bald figures are made of stuffed pink fabric; three of them have two heads.’

 

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Harvey Taylor Sleeping Child, 2009
painting

 

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Keith Farquhar Lap Gods, 2018
Nylon sleeping bags, toy dogs, branded coffee cups

 

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Taras Polataiko Sleeping Beauty, 2012
‘Ukrainian-Canadian artist Taras Polataiko devised the exhibit at the National Art Museum of Ukraine, which sees women lie asleep for three days, while potential suitors are able to kiss them. If the sleeping beauties open their eyes, both man and woman are contractually obliged to tie the knot.’

 

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Carsten Höller Two Roaming Beds (Grey), 2015
‘In 2015, Höller introduced a pair of robotic beds that cruised through London’s Hayward Gallery as participants snoozed. At £300 for two per night, the experience also included tubes of gendered toothpastes, concocted by Höller himself “to induce and influence male- and female-oriented dreams.”’

 

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Hans Op de Beeck Girl, asleep, 2021
Wood, polyester, metal, polyamide, coating

 

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Antony Gormley ROOM, 2014
‘A geometric human figure, the external portion of this “inhabitable sculpture” by renowned British sculptor Gormley, sits perched atop the southern wing of the Beaumont, a hotel in London’s ritzy Mayfair district. Forming a stark contrast with the hotel’s pristine neo-Georgian facade, the cluster of cubic forms contains a suite—which starts at £1,420 a night—complete with a high-ceiling bedroom, living room, pure white marbled bathroom, and large windows shrouded in blackout curtains. Unveiling the work in 2014, Gormley dubbed it a “hermit’s cave; a primal space within the city but removed from the city entirely”.’

 

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Jon Sasaki A Rest, 2016
‘Poses borrowed from depression-era dance marathon contestants are held with increasing difficulty. Without a partner to lean on, the poses become an urgent sort of endurance feat for a solo dancer. Stances that are restful when buttressed by a partner become unsustainable stress positions that cause the solitary body to strain and finally collapse.’

 

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Liz Magor Burrow, 1999
‘Liz Magor’s Burrow is a cast tree trunk that houses a sleeping bag.’

 

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Susan Philipsz Sleep Close and Fast, 2020
Sleep Close and Fast presents a new seven channel sound installation featuring recordings of lullabies sung in the artist’s own voice. Culled from a variety of sources including cult horror films, opera and literature, the lullabies chosen all share dark and haunting undertones.’

 

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Steven Shearer Untitled, 2020
‘A series of seven billboards plastered with photographs of sleeping people have been covered up after organizers of Vancouver’s Capture Photography Festival received a flood of angry emails. The photographs, by the Canada-based artist Steven Shearer, debuted at the Arbutus Greenway on Tuesday, and were plastered over by Thursday, before the festival had officially begun. The images, culled from eBay as well as the artist’s personal archive, reminded viewers too much of dead people, it seems.

‘Festival founder Kim Spencer-Nairn told the Art Newspaper that the emails she received were “vitriolic,” with residents claiming “it made me want to vomit” and “it reminded me of dead people.” Based on the response, she said, “Clearly we overestimated Vancouver’s appetite for provocative work.”

 

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Ricardo Basbaum Capsules (NBP x me-you), 2000
‘In the mid-’90s, Brazilian artist and writer Basbaum launched “New Bases for Personality” (NBP), an ongoing theory-based project—including both manifestos and installations staged all over the world—to explore concepts like human interaction and visual cognition. At the Tate Modern’s “Between Object and Architecture” exhibition, his cage-like “bed-capsules” lie partially open, inviting weary (or Instagram-savvy) museum visitors to crawl inside and become active participants in the work.’

 

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Liu Xiaodong Sleeping And Insomnia Series, 1996
Oil on canvas

 

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Martha Araújo “Para um corpo…”, 1987
‘“Para um corpo…” (“for a body…”) is a series of mattress-like works exploring the human form as both fragment and whole. Carved in the human form, these foamy sculptures had people lying inside and on top of them.’

 

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Paul McCarthy White Snow, Asleep, 2013–2014
Bronze

 

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Frank and Patrik Riklin Null Stern Hotel, 2016
‘This summer, twin conceptual artists Frank and Patrik Riklin placed a bed atop a Swiss mountain and charged visitors 250 Swiss francs per night to sleep under the sky. It marked the second iteration of the pair’s Null Stern Hotel, first realized in 2009, when they transformed a 1980s Swiss fallout shelter into a commercial space that sleeps 14. A dig at luxury hotel brands busy adding a sixth, even seventh star to their ratings, they promote a “zero-star” concept (Null Stern’s motto: “the only star is you”).’

 

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Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel Somniloquies, 2017
‘In Somniloquies, their camera moves over sleeping, unguarded naked bodies while a soundtrack relays the sleep talk, nocturnal speculations, and orated dreams of Dion McGregor, a gay American songwriter whose hallucinatory, salacious, and sadistic dreams were recorded by his New York roommate over a seven-year period in the 1960s.’

 

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Jorge Pardo Spare Bedroom, 2014
‘Pardo constructed a spare bedroom inside New York’s Petzel Gallery for a 2014 solo show. Outfitted with a pink shag rug and a mattress, the structure was intended for visitors to explore—to step inside, peer through the multi-colored panes of glass, and even lie back on the bed and close their eyes.’

 

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Allen Ruppersberg Al’s Grand Hotel, 1971
‘In 1971, American conceptual artist Allen Ruppersberg converted an aging house on Sunset Boulevard into a lively hotel-cum-artwork. Each of the seven rooms had a theme, ranging from the “Jesus Room” (guests had to step over an enormous wooden cross to reach the bed) to the “Al Room” (chock full of life-size cardboard cutouts of Ruppersberg). The rooms cost $30/night.’

 

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Elmgreen & Dragset Boy Scout, 2008
Metal bunk bed, foam mattresses, sheeting, pillows and woollen blankets

 

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Michaël Borremans Sleeper, 2007 – 2008
Oil on canvas

 

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Iris Nesher Out of Time, 2019
‘Ari Nesher fell asleep at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2008. His family was on a tour, and at a certain point, the six year old simply got tired and took a rest on some pillows at the center of a contemporary art gallery. It was a spontaneous and genuine expression of “museum fatigue.” Ari’s mother, Tel Aviv-based art photographer Iris Nesher, snapped a shot of him in repose. When she looked at the image again when she got home, she realized it was far more than just a family photo.

‘Nesher placed the photo in a file on her desktop she titled, “Ari sleeps in museums.” As Ari grew up, Nesher took hundreds of photos of him in European museums, galleries and art-filled churches the family visited while on vacation or business for Nesher or her husband, acclaimed Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher.

‘As Ari got older, he became a partner in the process, helping choose the artworks he would pose in front of and how to position himself. In keeping with the theme, he was always lying, leaning or sprawled — on a bench, against a wall, or over the back of a pew. Mother and son decided the endpoint of the project would be Ari’s 18th birthday, at which time they would put together an exhibit of the work.

‘Tragically, Ari never made it to 18. He died in a road accident in September 2018, just as he turned 17. His parents donated his organs, an altruistic gesture eerily foretold by the last photograph Nesher took for the series, when her son was 16 and a half. It was of Ari — eyes closed — limply leaning over a pew at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. He is positioned directly under the shadow of a crucifix hanging high overhead.’

 

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Stine Deja Cold Sleep, 2021
‘Cryopreserved bodies in thermal, yellow suits are suspended in big, circular aluminium structures revolving around their own axis on small islands in a desert landscape. In the sand lie craters where artificially inseminated cells divide. A barren desert landscape is usually seen as lifeless and abstract. In Deja’s version it becomes a place for being before or after human life, or, as the artist has it, “a population in another dimension.”’

 

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Andrea Modica Fountain, 2011
‘The photographic series “Fountain” by Andrea Modica gives an insider view of modern industrial hunters, aka the Baker family. The Bakers run a small slaughterhouse that has been in the family for three generations. The collaboration between artist and family created a series of photographs that are like a well-developed philosophy of the expired, expressed with the gentle and careful use of tone and mood that constantly challenges a carnivore’s contribution to animal slaughter and its often quiet consequences (i.e. health). In this series of photographs, animal and human merge within the shadows without ever showing the blood and guts of it all, instead the photographs capture humans as lifeless as their animals and beautifully slaughtered on the inside.’

 

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Chu Yun This is XX, 2006
‘In Chu Yun’s work This is XX, a rotating group of paid volunteers ingest sleeping pills that cause them to sleep while on public display through long portions of the museum’s opening hours.’

 

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Kris Lemsalu Phantom Camp, 2012
ceramics, sleeping bags

 

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Gavin Turk Habitat, 2004
Bronze

 

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Florian Slotawa Hotelarbeiten [Hotel Works], 1998-1999
‘The series Hotelarbeiten brought Slotawa’s work to the attention of a broad audience. Over the course of a night spent in a hotel, the artist would dismantle the furnishings and fittings of his room and re-assemble them into something between a makeshift shelter and a child’s fantasy hideaway. His journey entailed stopovers in Switzerland, Italy, France, and Germany, resulting in a series of black-and-white photographs of these one-night affairs, which were published in the magazine of the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.’

 

 

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p.s. Hey. Tomorrow morning my pal Zac and I are making a long-awaited short trip to my favorite amusement park Phantasialand in Germany. The blog will be on vacation for the duration, meaning tomorrow through Thursday. Everything will return to normal on Friday. Please feel free to leave comments in the meantime, and I’ll respond to them on Friday. Thanks. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Thanks, we definitely need some good news right now. I’m so happy you liked the Destroyer track! I’ll check out the Mac Miller. Yes, indeed, Tarzan! On my blog! What an amazing honor! Love replacing your current bed with Liz Magor’s ‘Burrow’. If you don’t like it, I think you can sell it at Sotheby’s or somewhere and make some solid bucks, G. ** David Ehrenstein, I’m not big on opera, but I’m okay with 70s gay porn. ** Bill, Hi. Yes, even a few happyish endings among the escorts for once. I bailed on Eurovision and crashed pretty early on. It was a given from the outset that Ukraine would win. The ‘desperately seeking a novelty hit song’ Norway entry seemed like the worst/best. Those were some good days you had, so if you had a slow weekend, that doesn’t sound like a deal breaker. My weekend was a dreadful stressfest, but I’ll spare you. Have a great mid-week. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Oh, damn, but, you know, better safe than sorry is the byword. I hope/assume you’ll be sporting about by the time I get to chat with you next. Play Therapy was the only good thing that happened to me this weekend, almost literally, so thank you muchly for the fine respite. ** Steve Erickson, He most likely is. New song. I’ll cue it up as I’m packing for my trip. Everyone, Here’s Steve Erickson: ‘I released a new song, “One Mile”, last night. I’m not that confident about how good it might be, so I decided to put it out separately from my next album project. It was inspired by listening to Miles Davis’ “Prelude” and realizing that while it’s very complex rhythmically, it begins with 5 minutes of one-chord rhythm guitar.’ ** Okey doke. Here’s a post to help you guys have a pleasant three-day nap while the blog’s captain (aka I) am away. Have fun, and see you on Friday.

15 Comments

  1. Dominik

    Hi!!

    Have major, major fun at Phantasialand! Please do tell me all about it when you get back!

    Although a bit of a cliché at this point, I’m inclined to add Warhol’s Sleep to the collection. I like Allen Ruppersberg’s rooms a lot.

    Thank you; I can absolutely see myself sleeping in Liz Magor’s Burrow! Love giving you and your plus one a gift invitation to the Null Stern Hotel and hoping to fuck it won’t rain, Od.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    Marianne Faithfull

  3. David Ehrenstein

    Andy Warhol

  4. Bill

    The roaming beds are cute. What are people thinking getting upset about billboards of sleeping people? I’ll take a smaller version of the shirtless guy, please.

    Sorry to hear about the stressfest, Dennis. Hope your Monday is less so, and you’ll enjoy the trip!

    Bill

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    Keith Farquhar is a good Scottish lad and I love his sleeping bags shown here.

    The big news is that as of yesterday, I am back home. Thursday last week I had some kind of MS flareup, we think caused by an infection in my toe believe it or not. It took 2 guys to carry me downstairs and put me in an ambulance. I was taken to A&E at St James’s Hospital where I was sent temporarily doolally. Certainly felt much better after a good night’s sleep and some council breakfast. Yesterday I was discharged and have quickly settled back into my humdrum domestic routine.

    Next week I will be seen by a podiatrist and we’ll get this pesky toenail removed that’s been the cause of so much upheaval of late. These infections are bad news for someone with my MS-compromised immune system. For now my head feels fairly clear, and the biggest stress is the final weekend of the football season coming up. Leeds United are currently only just above the relegation zone and the fans are still singing the name of our former manager Marcelo Bielsa, along with chants to sack the board. They have messed up and I just hope we can get through this.

  6. l@rst

    Hey D-

    Cool post! I saw a very hilarious Nightmare on Elm Street play and they had the bed vertical for all the bed scenes, it was clever and worked great! Enjoy your trip!

    -L

  7. CAUTIVOS

    Congratulations on your new posts. I’ve been rereading some of your books for lack of anything new around here I spend my life looking in bookstores to see if anything else from you appears. It would be too much to ask that they end up editing the pentalogy. We had left it in the Guide and therefore it is missing that after much insistence no one has formalized the edition. I hope you’re well. Your beauty is superior to most top-model

  8. CAUTIVOS

    Félicitations pour vos nouveaux messages. Nous l’avions laissé dans le Guide et il manque donc qu’après beaucoup d’insistance personne n’ait officialisé l’édition. J’espère que tu vas bien. Votre beauté est supérieure à la plupart des top-modèles

  9. CAUTIVOS

    Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Ihren neuen Beiträgen. Ich habe einige Ihrer Bücher immer wieder gelesen, weil es hier nichts Neues gibt. Ich verbringe mein Leben damit, in Buchhandlungen zu suchen, um zu sehen, ob noch etwas von Ihnen erscheint. Es wäre zu viel verlangt, dass sie am Ende die Pentalogie redigieren. Wir hatten es im Leitfaden belassen und daher fehlt, dass nach langem Beharren niemand die Ausgabe formalisiert hat. Ich hoffe dir geht es gut. Ihre Schönheit ist den meisten Topmodels überlegen

  10. Steve Erickson

    How was the Phantasialand trip? How do German amusement parks differ from American ones?

    Here’s my May music roundup for Gay City News, on Syd, Gloria Groove & 700 Bliss: https://gaycitynews.com/may-music-roundup-syd-gloria-groove-and-700-bliss/

  11. RYAN

    Dennis!! Hello!

    How are you doing? I am well, I have compiled all the songs I will play at this festival I’m playing in august and sent it to my friend whos helping me out as well as the festival organiser so now im gonna write the songs that im gonna perform and such. And do the lighting arrangements, it’s all automated these days so I just timestamp the bits I want certain lighting effects or programs to happen,, like strobes or the lights going out or whatever. Im taking it slow with finishing the album as one or two label people are seeing my set, so if anything comes of that It means I might be able to add some further embellishments to the albums like real drums and some extra instrumentation I had in mind – violin and horns -. And they can assist me in making this music video I wanna make.

    My brother has now gone home for ten days, then hes back for 3 weeks. I’ve been picking up alot of overtime at work – sorry for not been as consistant in the letters to you – so I can fund the set and the album and maybe get some eventual vinyl pressed, anything I can fund myself even when on a label im gonna try and do coz it saves the label money and it means they wont be on my back about stuff if my projects and art isnt a financial risk, you know?

    Anyway yes I will keep you updated, my friend whos organising festival also does one or two online radio shows that have a fair bit of listenership so gonna perhaps have my first ever recorded audio interview with him, about the festival and my album and previous work.

    Oh fuck! yeah speaking of interviews, my friend River (hes written for alot of publications, washington post, rev twink, alot of subversive sites) its compeltely up for doing a interview with us both as part of a transcribed conversation, on my side about my album and prior work, on your side whatever you have been working on, the film, and i suppose your past work too, and moreso about our connection on here and what we like about our work, hes free anytime to do it, doesnt have to be as part of promo for my or your project, let me know if you have some free time now or in the future coming up and I will let him know and such, let me know your email again and I will send it to River, so when he has relevant details he can sort something out.

    Heres his twitter! https://twitter.com/river_is_nice

    how are thing?

    lots of love

    Ryan

  12. Misanthrope

    Dennis! Hahaha. Yes, Bernard. Love that guy so much.

    It’s been nice and sunny here. Gonna be 95 Saturday, though. Bleh. Better than the cold or rain, as far as I’m concerned.

    Sleep. Yeah, as I’ve said, I’m a 7 hours guy anymore. Last night, I fell out around 10 and woke up at 5:30 naturally. Somewhere between 7 and 8 for me, I guess.

    Alexander the Great didn’t like sex or sleep too much. They reminded him of death. His quote (allegedly) was, “Sex and sleep alone make me conscious that I am mortal.” He didn’t like the idea of being mortal. I feel that. 😀

  13. John Newton

    Hi Dennis, I hope you are well, and have fun at the theme park in Germany. I have been super busy here.

    The artwork of sleep is interesting. I have always had insomnia, so I stay awake reading, doing genealogy for family and friends, cleaning, and editing if I can find work doing it. Ever since the stupid COVID pandemic started I have started sleeping on my side and I always slept on my back before, sometimes I have nightmares or confusing dreams but not every night. I have tried melatonin with B vitamins and it just made me have lucid dreams with what were or seemed like very vivid out of body experiences and I would wake up suddenly.

    I used to be able to get by with 2-4 hours of sleep in my early 20s but I would drink liters of coffee, black tea, green tea, and yerba mate. Now in my late 30s I need 7-8 hours of sleep. I guess that is what I get for practicing meditation since age 14?

    Do you remember the artist Larry Stanton? There is now a resurgence and several books about him and his artwork have been written/published, including TAKEDOWN PORTRAITS a collection of poems based on the Larry Stanton portraits’ sitters, their thoughts, etc. as poetry by Winthrop Smith that I edited.

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