Kent Rogowski Inside Out, 2007
‘Think of your favorite teddy bear. Now imagine it’s been ripped open, gutted, and turned inside-out. That’s what Kent Rogowski’s Bears series has done to the iconic stuffed animals of our childhoods.’
Allora & Calzadilla The Camels Hump and the Ironing Board, 2010
Stuffed camel hump, metal
Vibha Galhotra Dead Monster, 2011
nickel coated ghungroos, fabric, polyurethane coat, cloth stuffing, thread, and steel
Takashi Murakami Under the Radiation Falls, 2017
stuffed animals, toys
Natascha Stellmach Killer (True Self), 2016
Mark Dion Survival of the Cutest, (Who gets on the Ark?), 1990
Toy stuffed animals, white enamel on red steel, wood and rubber wheelbarrow
Ross Bonfanti Various, 2019 – 2022
‘Bonfanti sources stuffed animals at flea markets and sometimes uses worn toys given to him by friends and family. He creates his innovative sculptures by opening up the toy animals, removing their stuffing, turning them inside out and filling them with concrete.’
Troy Emery Creature, 2012
polyester pompoms and high-density taxidermy foam
Sebastian Masuda Colorful Rebellion -Seventh Nightmare-, 2014
‘Artist Masuda Sebastian, a leading figure in Japan’s KAWAII culture, is celebrating his 30th year of activities this year. His works express KAWAII from a variety of perspectives, taking the world by storm and creating a new KAWAII culture with new values. Masuda has since 1995 been working as an art director, spreading KAWAII culture throughout Japan and across the world.’
Cindy Sherman Untitled (Stuffed Animals Clown), 2003
Paola Pivi OK, you are better than me, so what?, 2013
Urethane foam, plastic, feathers
Mike Kelley Estral Star #3, 1989
Tied handsewn found stuffed cloth animals with buttons
Nayland Blake Bottom Bunny, 1994
‘You may know the story of Br’er Rabbit—a cautionary tale brought to North America by enslaved Africans, racistly deformed into Uncle Remus, then bastardized by Walt Disney—about a wily hare who uses reverse psychology on his captors (a bear and a fox). He convinces them to throw him into the briar patch then breaks out laughing: the briar is his beloved birthplace. You may not remember how Br’er Rabbit got himself in a position to be tossed in the first place. The canny predators, Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear, construct a little black child out of tar (yes, it’s a racist story). When Br’er Rabbit, passing on the road, says “Howdy-do!,” the tar baby won’t reply. Br’er gets hopping mad, punches it, and gets stuck. Blake’s work falls somewhere between the tar baby and the briar patch.’
Charlemagne Palestine CCORNUUOORPHANOSSCCOPIAEE AANORPHANSSHHORNOFFPLENTYYY, 2018
‘”This idea or obsession that I had with a few animals at the beginning, never did I imagine that it would become such a maximal, enormous work like this. It’s the biggest ever with about 18,000 or more. That we found them quite easily and quickly. And there are hundreds of thousands more out there so it’s like some kind of social phenomena.” The animals are stuffed, and all of them used, or used up—orphans, as inscribed in the title.’
Taiichiro Yoshida Shell, 2021
‘Spending between two and six months on each work, Yoshida meticulously molds copper, bronze, silver, and other materials by hand, creating metallic pieces with intricately impressed textures and edgings. Once wrapped around an armature of a stuffed teddy bear, for instance, the fragile components ripple across the form.’
Linda Hori Super Sleepover Event, 2022
‘It was quite a sight to see! On Friday June 24th, children lined up at the Goleta Valley Library to drop off their favorite stuffed animal for a super sleepover event. Staff were prepared for a great turnout as they have had in the past but were thrilled to see more than 200 “stuffies” dropped off this year for the “all-nighter”. So, what did they do all night? The animal friends enjoyed a variety of adventures and shenanigans. They made s’mores, enjoyed yummy drinks, played fun games, and even had a dance party! The night was capped off with a special bubble machine bedtime story.’
Hansa Bolt, 2016
Plush stuffed white reindeer, mechanical animatronic
Miyako Tengyu Sleep Well Child/Genie, 2018
Sewing, fake fur, silk, box
Iain Baxter& Animal Preserve No. 2, 2013
‘Animal Preserve No. 2 includes over 500 jars, each of which contains a stuffed animal pickled in distilled water.’
Mattia Biagi Untitled, 2016
black tar, gold glitter, teddy bear
Stefan Tcherepnin The Mad Masters, 2018
‘“The Mad Masters” appears to ask what would become of this Muppet if he were to attempt to put aside his monomaniacal focus on baked comestibles and search for meaning elsewhere. Entering the gallery space, the viewer encounters four spot-lit stuffed animal dioramas, in which a series of Cookie Monster–like creatures are displayed in the manner of taxidermied animals in a natural history museum. The first of these, the white-furred Band Leader (all works 2018), stands before a microphone, surrounded by guitars, amps, and drums. It’s not clear whether his bandmates are late for rehearsal or exist only in his mind. The second creature, the brown-furred Channel Surfer, slumps in an easy chair watching TV. Beside him, a wastepaper basket is filled with scrunched-up sketches of his own face. The art of self-portraiture, it seems, has failed him, and now he contemplates his reflection in the flickering screen. The gray-furred, staff-wielding Tilyou Traveler, by contrast, is the outdoors type, gazing on an awesome vista: the arrangement recalls Caspar David Friedrich’s Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer [Wanderer above the Sea of Fog] (c. 1818). Rounding off the quartet, the red-furred Crash Survivor lies flat on his back, surrounded by empty packets of Haribo and spent cans of Fanta, as though he’s overdosed on the Cookie Monster equivalent of methadone.’
Gimhongsok This is Rabbit, 2005
‘”This is Rabbit” is an installation piece in which a person hidden inside a stuffed rabbit and accompanying texts form a set. The text explains that the person in the rabbit costume is an illegal immigrant worker, that they are performing at the museum, and that they are being paid for the performance.’
Paul McCarthy Pink Clown (from PROPO series), 1991–2008
Cibachrome mounted on aluminum
Jon Rafman Mainsqueeze, 2014
‘While Rafman is associated with digital artists of his generation, including Cory Arcangel and Ryan Trecartin, the truth is that his real avatar is filmmaker Chris Marker and, beyond that, the vast web and archive of the internet itself, in all its festooned splendour and baroque, libidinal glamour. Marker led viewers beyond the failsafe point into the dystopia of our existence. So, too, does Rafman, even if it now seems clear that he has entered something like heaven. Like Wade Davis, the intrepid ethnobiologist who journeyed up the Amazon in search of psychoactive plants, Rafman the artist/ethnographer has journeyed deep into the heart of our web culture, in search of ecstasy and delivers a full measure of ecstasis, trance, rapture. More than any other artist who uses the web as both canvas and support, he wants to induce euphoria and change both perception and the condition of being here.’
Christine Crane Fuk u Panda Loves You, 2008
‘Why Do Guys Strap Stuffed-Animals to Trucks? One prevalent theory among truckers is that chicks dig them. … the battered bear and his brethren had at least one foot in the vernacular cultures of Latin America, where the festive and the ghoulish enjoy a symbiotic relationship. Most of the drivers whose trucks he photographed were Hispanic, he said. “There was some sort of heraldic device to deny the fact of this gigantic machine,” he said. “You would have these humanizing forms, anthropomorphic forms – a device that both proclaims the identity of the machine and conceals it.”‘
Annette Messager Les Depouilles (Skins), 1997
‘Messager’s piece “Les Depouilles (Skins)” in 1997 showcased a series of children’s clothing and toys that she had taken apart, removed the stuffing and pinned up on the gallery wall. When commenting about the work Messager explained that she wanted to explore the similarities between what she saw as the final result on the wall and the shapes found in a Rorschach print.’
Hannah Black and Precious Okoyomon I Need Help, 2018
teddy bear stuffed with book shreddings
Mike Kelley & P.A.M. Little Friend, 2007
‘Do you miss the special love that a Little Friend can give? I bet you do! If you’re like most of us, there’s a Little Friend from your past whose voice haunts you across space and time. Little Friend is the specter of your childhood, when you stood at puberty’s door. Little Friend is a loveable talking plush toy conceived by Mike Kelley and P.A.M. that randomly speaks 20 different phrases and comes to you packed in box adorned with cheery, colorful, graphics. Add 3 AAA batteries (not included) and your own love and Little Friend will return your affection.’
p.s. Hey. ** James B, Hi, James! Welcome! Thank you very much. I don’t know if this will help, but when I’m writing, I try to keep as much of myself as possible dedicated to what you call the ‘darker, dreamlike’ area, which I guess I think of as the stuff that’s difficult to seemingly impossible to put into words, and I try to think of the realist approach/language as the writing’s surface or the means to communicate, the compromise area in a way, and that sometimes, when my concentration is at its best, allows me to kind of have my cake and eat it too, as it were. But, yeah, it took me a long while and experimenting to figure out how to do that. But it’s possible. But I don’t know if that way of thinking is something that you can relate to as writer? I don’t know where my confidence comes from. I think I’m patient with myself, and I tend to always think long term, like … I’ll get where I want to go eventually. So I think my confidence is more about trusting in how much I want to write well and less so in what is actually pouring or leaking out on the page at any particular moment. Does that make any sense? Feel more than free to share what you’re thinking about your writing whenever you wish. Thanks! ** Misanthrope, The Coopers were originally Scottish, if I’m remembering what my dad used to say. The only family distant, ancient well-known relative that I can remember is Sam Houston, that guy who did something famous to do with the Alamo. Yeah, I’m not so interested in my family’s lineage either, but one of my brothers is, so he’ll pass along back stories, and it is kind of cool to know, I guess. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, wow, on the timing. The girl wants to play the part, so that’s great. But now we have to see if we can change the shooting schedule because she’s 12 years old and only available during her spring school break and on weekends. I really hope we can sort that out. It would be a huge relief. A real human being that looked like Casper would be a whole lot scarier than Casper. Oh, you’re right about the mid-sex mac&cheese mouthful. Yikes, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m guessing that I couldn’t find Kate Monica’s poetry even if I tried. So I wish love all the luck with your task of yesterday. Love making anyone who flies internationally tomorrow officially exempt from getting jet lag, G. ** _Black_Acrylic, Awesome! It’s so great, right? Back when I was doing Little Caesar Magazine I transcribed Eric Emerson’s crazy LSD-influenced monologue and printed it in one of the issues, which took forever because back then you had to rent a 16 mm print of the film to even see it, but it was worth the drudgery. ** Steve Erickson, Ah, I didn’t realise that migraines are triggered by specific events, which shows you how little I know. Glad to hear it’s history. Enjoy the snow. I think even the mountains around LA are supposed to get snow, but I’ll find out tomorrow. I’m sadly not surprised by the ugly downturn in 100 gecs’s stuff. Oh, well. Onto the next promising musical unit. ** alex, Hi, alex. Thanks, yeah, the wallet thing could have been much worse. You’re working in a hospital. That sounds intense, but I guess when I imagine a hospital there’s always crises in progress. Damage from watching too many ‘ER’ episodes back in the day. I think in fact, if I’m remembering, HH did have his fair of secret observation rooms. Someone should rebuild the Castle in an amusement park or something. ** Robert, Hi! Hm, I don’t recall that I ever fell down a flight of stairs. It seems strange, but I don’t think I ever have. I’ve certainly stumbled more than a few times, but I guess I must have a lightning quick reflex to grab the railing or something. Strange to envy your history of falling, but I do. I think it was the words ‘somersaulting head over heels’. Such an inspiring phrase. How are you? It was rainy here yesterday, but today it’s blue up above for as far as I can see. ** Cody Goodnight, Hi, Cody! Thanks! Your comment got a comment from Kettering, if you didn’t see it. I’m okay, mostly just getting ready to fly endlessly to Los Angeles tomorrow. Yeah, I think it’s probably the rich musical history of Memphis that makes me so curious about it. Whenever I see photos of it, it doesn’t look especially exciting architecturally or anything. I like cemeteries too. Paris has three pretty great ones filled with lots of bodies of people who were great artists of one type or another. And some of the graves would qualify as weird art themselves. I’m happy you’re feeling better. I must’ve listened to that first Tears for Fears album a lot when it came out because every time I hear a song from it I immediately feel how I guess I felt back in the early 80s, which seems to have been melancholy and a little coked up. How was the inspired double feature? Have a swell day, pal. ** Kettering, Hi. Thanks for writing that. ** Niko, Hey there, Niko. Fantastic news about your novel! Champagne and all of that festive stuff! I’m proud if anything I said helped you at all. 392 pages, that is a whopper, by my standards at least. It’s already going to the printers and preparing for launch?! Wow, that’s a fast turnover, no? I’m used to the US timeframe which usually takes a year between publisher acceptance and actual publishing. That’s great! Congratulations! ** Okay. I wondered if I could sustain a whole thematic post around the theme of stuffed animals, and I guess I decided I could whether I actually did or not. I’ll see you one more time tomorrow before I go to LA and the blog returns to the weekly posting schedule again for a while.
Hi Dennis, I like days like today because it works in new things I haven’t seen along with old favourites. When I was little, genuinely had a thing where I had to be equally attentive to each of my stuffed animals even if I didn’t really like them cuz I thought they would come after me in my sleep if not… also had a thing where I wouldn’t eat candy that had a face so I had a shoe box under bed that was filled with chocolate bunnies etc that never ate and didn’t know what to do with. That’s probably too much information…?
We moved once when I was a kid, and I had to pack up all of my stuffed animals – the total headcount came to almost 400. I’ve since donated most of them, but my current humble collection would welcome Natascha Stellmach’s “Killer” anytime.
Ah, good, I’m glad the girl wants to play the part! Coming up with a shooting schedule that works for everyone involved sounds pretty nightmarish, though.
I hope love will do his absolute best to spare you! Love having nightmares about Iain Baxter&’s “Animal Preserve No. 2” for months, Od.
Dennis, I’m sure I’ve told you this before, but I still have the first stuffed animal I was ever given. My grandmother gave me this little teddy bear when I was an infant. Little dude is 51 like me. And yes, it’s still in my bed.
Same re: lineage. It is cool when you hear of something kinda interesting. Though I have a friend who found out a few years ago that his ancestors were pretty notorious slave owners and he was quite beside himself for a while there. Now that sucks. Luckily, I haven’t seen anything like that in my family tree. But like I said I’ve never searched that hard. Seems, though, my people, hahahaha MY PEOPLE!, came over and landed in MA and made their way down to NY and then to NJ. So all Northerners. Who knows?
As children, my brother and I divided up all our stuffed animals between us. The way it worked out is that I was left with just a single one, a semi-stuffed glove puppet I called Fred. I still have him in the old house. Mum did a really cool pencil drawing of him, and that’s in the old house too.
Re Chelsea Girls, I used to have the book that Wayne Koestenbaum wrote about Warhol, but lent it to a friend many years ago and never got it back. I just found a copy on eBay for like 2 quid and I’m pretty sure there was a CG chapter in there.
re: the gecs, they initially got popular from their minecraft etc. streaming performances, and i think their success depends on this platform w its lofi blown-out sound. the hifi polish on the “official” releases works against them; all the songs that are coming out now sound way better (and more legitimate to their “true identity”) when they first came out during the pandemic stream shows. for example i think this gig https://soundcloud.com/chasehilton/sets/100-gecs-lavapalooza is the gecs at their very best, infinitely better sounding than the iterations of some of these songs on the “album”
Have you heard that z-lib has been resurrected on the dark web, only accessible through TOR?
I can picture the new gecs songs sounding better in more lo-fi renditions. The album’s production is slick, with a harsh, trebly edge. I know they’ve long been playing these songs live.
Migraines can have many causes, but they’re frequently triggered by stress.
“Little Friend” reminded me of urban legends about sinister children’s toys that can speak hidden messages.
Do you fly to L.A. Sunday? After that, do you return to Paris again before the actual shoot? How many days do you think filming will take?
My wife was in the mental health unit of a hospital for a month recently. Early in her stay she requested a large teddy bear to hold and sleep with. She told us later about the intense jealousy expressed by fellow patients on the floor. People requested a turn with the stuffed animal, and one person wanted to steal it from her.
Stuffed animals still hold a weird, emotionally vulnerable place in my psyche. Looking at them getting messed up gives me sadness pangs. And thinking about the produced excess and the discarded labor congealed in them kind of depresses me.
Thanks for your writing. It’s impacted me in ways hard to describe. I’ve been reading your work for only a few years now and am commenting on your blog for the first time.
This is a great great post, Dennis! Hope you are well. – j
yeah same re: hospitals, even though I spent a lot of time in them growing up cause my grandma was a long-term patient after her stroke. since she couldn’t move or talk I guessed my parents thought it would make it easier for me to relate to her with a teddy bear. so we got her this small yellow bear with pink eyes and I would put it in her hands when we came to visit. I think I still have it somewhere.
then again, my childhood was the beanie baby explosion. I remember having a good dozen or so but some kids had hundreds. did you have a lot of stuffed toys as a kid? I had one beanie baby that was a vampire bat and there was a flap of velcro on the tips of its wings so you could wrap it up like it was sleeping, that definitely made it my favourite.
Plush toys have an interesting look. They practically scream cute or creepy to me. I wish you well on your trip to LA. Memphis is incredibly gifted musically. There’s so many music museums that I’ve personally been to. It’s not an area with special architecture, no. It’s mostly just homes and buildings. Nowhere near as nice-looking as Paris, I assume? Cemeteries are very tranquil areas. There’s just so much history and life to them. I don’t like it when people associate cemeteries with just death. I see them as preserving and honoring life, the lives of those whom passed on. Tears for Fears rule. I’ve listened to Shout and Head Over Heels so many times. I actually did not watch that double today, but will try tomorrow. It just sounded fun to do, and I’ve got confirmation that both films are about vampirism of sorts, I haven’t seen Martha. Reminds me of how Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends is a lovely film about cannibalism. My day was fine. Yours? Boring day at classes, going to see Ghost Dog tonight, hyped up on coffee. I plan to dive into some books I bought on Saturday, Junji Ito’s manga Tomie & a Wes Anderson retrospective book. Have a good day, Dennis!
Dennis, hello! I wanted to say hello and also to mention a book that you probably know about—Muder Factory by Alexandra Midal—that’s due out from Sternbergh/MIT in May. It was scheduled to come out a year or years ago and then the pandemic torpedoed the pub date—anyway, I have been waiting for it patiently, hoping for maximum info on the innards and outtards of the Holme’ castle. Miss you, my friend! Love, Derek
Hi! Sorry my job made me really tired and I had to catch up on some sleep! How have you been? You’re one of my main friends now so i need to make sure I stay up to date! Hum not much has happened yet but I didn’t really like training for it. Its really simple stuff and a pretty small store and I really hate having to perform attentiveness and acting professional so I was just dying to be left alone to do all the nothing I was planning on getting paid for but both my bosses were hovering around and making sure I’m competent which I really hated. They’re both really nice and all Its not a them being weird or mean problem luckily. Also wow I think once years ago I saw this pornstar I liked a lot irl(Hotrod he has an inhumanely large dick to me) and I was kinda shocked he looked so normal so I get that! One of my favs Matt Kennedy is French I wonder if you’ve ever seen him just living there he’s smoking hot and so my type I think id fall out if I saw him someplace normal. Villians hum I tend to immediately sympathize with villains cause they’re normally outnumbered but one of my all time favorites would have to be Ozymandias from watchmen. Which is sorta funny cause he’s a villain doing villainy for a completely reasonable reason when you look at the story he’s in. And I love how dramatic and stupid his plan but it totally works out which just proves how smart he was. And now that you’ve said it superman is kinda boring and I think because of it he’s always gone up against such loser villains. New question you can remove one thing from the world completely and no one will remember it be it a concept, letter, fruit anything really what do you take away and why? Ill be sure to treasure the simplicity I have a small inkling interesting things are around the corner but I always think that before a weekend of clubbing so That’s all for now hope you’re well and talk soon!