The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Xmas

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Tim Alkema High powered rocket Christmas tree (2010)
‘Pretty perfect flight. We were worried it was going to fall apart on the launch pad! :D’

 

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John Baldessari Christmas (With Double Boy on Crutches) (1991)
‘According to Baldessari, the colours of the dots symbolise different feelings: red for danger, green for safety, yellow for chaos or insanity and blue for harmony.’

 

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Tom Burr Christmas Collapse (2005)
Wood, latex, paint, metal, hardware, glass, and paper

 

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Oskar Dawicki After Christmas Forever (2005)
‘An artificial Christmas tree – a product manufactured on a large scale – is standing on a newspaper. At the bottom, around the stand, we can see a vast pile of conifer needles, while the tree itself has thinned-out branches that have but a few needles left. The humorous nature of this project (as the falling of needles is a problem common to all natural Christmas trees) has been narrowed down to something seemingly impossible. However, the title (After Christmas Forever) relates the manipulated object not to a one-time joke, but to a diagnosis: a permanently post-Christmas situation that we are all part of.’

 

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Martin Creed It’s You (2016)
‘This might be momentarily mistaken for a love song, until you see the infinite weariness in Creed’s face. It’s not a lover’s melancholy. It is more like the look on Macbeth’s face when he contemplates tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.’

 

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Tom Shankland The Children (2008)
‘A mysterious illness turn children into killers during a Christmas vacation. It’s exactly what you expect from that description and it doesn’t disappoint. The children are effectively creepy, some really nice bloody gory scenes and it doesn’t shy away from violence anyone can die including the kids. You can tell most of the film wasn’t filmed on location, the snow looks really fake and it doesn’t look cold at all which you could argue it’s closer to spring but Christmas is usually pretty cold. That being said blood on snow is always a winner.’

 

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Philippe Parreno Jean-Luc Godard (1993)
‘An installation piece consisting of an artificial Christmas tree hung with fairy lights, teddy bears, and baubles, surrounded by blue canvas chairs on which the viewer is invited to sit and listen to a 45-minute accompanying soundtrack. Delivered via an old-fashioned cassette recorder, this offers a mocked up monologue by the French-Swiss filmmaker, scripted by Parreno, musing on the state of today’s popular culture and society.’

 

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William J. O’Brien Untitled (2015)
Mixed media

 

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Carlos Aires Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart (2010)
Engraved kitchen knives

 

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Paul McCarthy Xmas Pudding (1999)
Glass vessel filled with red rubber

 

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David Hammons Chasing the Blue Train (1989 – 1991)
‘‘Chasing the Blue Train’ is an installation comprising impressive grand pianos, a mountain of coal and a blue miniature train that meanders through this strange landscape to the notes of Afro-American jazz by John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. The title is a contraction of two titles of Coltrane’s records. The train track and the coal refer to the infamous A metro line that connected Brooklyn to the New York ‘black’ district of Harlem. They also refer to the crisis of 1920-’30, in which thousands of Afro-Americans traversed the US to work in the coal mines.’

 

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Jim Shaw Heap (2005)
plastic, spray paint, resin and metal rods

 

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Cai Guo-Qiang Black Christmas Tree (2012)
‘In the spirit of diplomacy and Christmas, not necessarily in that order, the U.S. State Department tried to explode a large, coniferous tree today. Actually, it was contemporary Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang who tried to explode it, following a ceremony in which he and four other artists received the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts. The intent, the Los Angeles Times reports, was to create a “tree image in floating black smoke that will serve as an ethereal doppelganger for the real one.”‘

 

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Yrjö Edelmann 5 paintings (2014)
‘Yrjö Edelmann finds inspiration in the enigmatic presence of wrapped objects. His trompe l’oeil, oil paintings depict hastily wrapped packages, homing in on their creased and wrinkled surfaces and unassuming material.’

 

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Otto Dieffenbach 2 drones (2014 – 2016)
‘Drone craftsman Otto Dieffenbach has made a bit of a name for himself building what he calls “Identifiable Flying Objects.”‘

 

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Scott Walker The Day the Conducator Died (An Xmas Song) (2012)
‘The song is loosely about the execution of Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu on Christmas day 1989.’

 

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Karen Kilimnik Switzerland, the Pink Panther & Peter Sellers & Boris & Natasha in Siberia (1991)
stuffed animals, fondue pot, toe shoes, pine bow, artificial snow, candy bars, pine cone with glitter, paper lace doily, bell, two drawings, mylar, cellophane, reindeer, masking tape and decals

 

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Bill Horton World’s Largest Entirely Edible Gingerbread House (2013)
‘The largest gingerbread house ever built, standing 20 feet high and composed of 39,201 cubic feet of gingerbread, has been constructed in Bryan, Texas.

‘Officially recognized by Guinness World Records, the tenaciously tasty treat was built by the members of the Traditions Club, a private golf club. They said they kept with the Guinness rules requiring that the entire outside structure was edible.

“We ate it all along,” Bill Horton, the club’s general manager, told GoodMorningAmerica.com. “In fact, the first day, when the Guinness World Records gentleman came, I was walking him around the building and in his British accent he asked if it was edible. So I bent down, picked up a piece that had fallen onto the ground and ate it. He looked at me and said, ‘Either it’s edible or you’re an idiot.'”

 

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Roman Signer Les Sapins-derviches (2015)
‘In the courtyard of the castle, it is a real ballet of fir-dervishes that we are witnessing! A grove of fir trees of different sizes, decorated for the occasion, measure in their own way the earth’s attraction!’

 

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Ben Quilty The Biggest Bottom Feeder (2018)
‘For his new series, Quilty says he “went on a search for a straight white male figure that I could use, in a sense, to build the armature of what I wanted to say on”. “When I talked to friends, and particularly female friends, about this idea that I had to use Santa … it’s surprising how many them said ‘Oh yes, I remember sitting on Santa’s knee … and feeling his erection’. Some really seedy stories [came up],” Quilty recalls.’

 

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Taryn Simon A Cold Hole (2018)
A Cold Hole, the US artist’s new performance and installation will plunge museum visitors into icy water. A smooth layer of ice will be laid on the floor of a 40ft-by-22ft space and covered with ice chips by Simon and her team, to resemble the uneven surface of a natural frozen lake. A square hole, 5ft by 5ft, will be cut 9ft-deep into the floor to create a plunge pool, filled with salt water and kept at around 40ºF (4ºC). More than 14 tonnes of ice and water will be used, requiring structural reinforcements in the basement below. A Cold Hole invites members of the public—who must be capable swimmers, in good health and over 18 years old—to sign up in advance for cold plunges, held daily throughout the show’s run, at unannounced times.

 

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The Fall We Wish You a Protein Christmas (2012)
‘Released in a gatefold sleeve in a imited edition of 1000 copies.’

 

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Jeffrey Mandel Elves (1989)
There’s ONE elf! Not only that, but they didn’t use a kid or dwarf wearing a suit, they go and make top and bottom halves. You would think it was done that way so the elf could have all sorts of neat facial expressions, but it can barely move. Kirsten, Amy, and Brooke have this weird ceremony in the woods and bring the elf back to life. Soon Santa’s little killer is knocking off bit part actors, including a department store Santa. Hot on the heels of that death toll are the Nazis though, grandfather’s old friends know the elf was resurrected and want to help it mate with Kirsten. Nazis created the elf, and a perfect virgin will give birth to Aryans after it lays her. Mike takes over as the department store Santa and has something for Kirsten. The girls have a sleepover in the department store where Kirsten works. Mike shows up, the Nazis show up, and of course the elf shows up. After that Mike rushes around learning about the Nazis’ secret elf program to save Kirsten.

 

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Andrea Fraser A Monument to Discarded Fantasies (2003)
‘A pile of discarded Carnival costumes gathered from the streets of Rio de Janeiro.’

 

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Gary Hume Back of a Snowman (2002)
The 10-foot-tall, half-ton, faceless snowman stands outdoors. Hume has described the snowman as “the perfect sculpture, viewable from all sides, immaculate from all angles.”

 

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Gregory Markopoulos Christmas USA (1949)
Christmas U.S.A is not a primarily erotic film, containing no nudity or even nods to the act of gay sex. Instead, the film is a narrative about the gay psyche, surviving, enduring and eventually defeating oppression by the America so lovingly elevated in Post War America. Markopoulo’s looks upon the familial unit with revulsion and fear. Mother is haggard, kid sister is suspicious, even Father with his newspaper looks to his shirtless son in fear. The boy of our narrative wanders a Kafka-esque homestead of conservatism, kept propped up by mothers domesticity and fathers glowering presence. His mere presence, glowing shirtless like a ivory Greek statue, makes the dark rooms glow with eerie brightness, as he rests his head between his masculine arms. He cannot be contained, a ceremony occurs beneath a bridge, perhaps a known cruising spot in our humble town, a clean cut boy holds a candle stick, walking towards another boy, his arms spread like Saint Sebastian, bowing to him.

 

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Honoré d’O Gnome, extended (1999)
‘GSConnect is a complete implementation of KDE Connect especially for GNOME Shell with Nautilus, Chrome and Firefox integration. It does not rely on the KDE Connect desktop application and will not work with it installed.’

 

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Alexander Calder Santa Claus (1974)
Etching

 

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America’s Tallest Singing Christmas Tree (2015)
High School Choir Performs as 67 Foot ‘Singing Christmas Tree’

 

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Per-Ingvar Tomren & Magne Steinsvoll O’Hellige Jul! (2013)
Coming from a group of enthusiastic Norwegian amateurs, O’Hellige Jul takes place in a small town the days before Christmas. Norway’s horror scene is still in its infancy, which means that mainstream movies play safe and independent movies are the ones pushing the envelope. No horror movies with two, three or four million dollars budgets have tried to be innovative in Norway so far, and O’Hellige Jul therefore joins the ranks of movies that are produced on shoestring budgets but still manages to go beyond most of what’s been seen before (FYI, a Norwegian shoestring budget could be 5 or 15.000 dollars, not the 300.000 dollars Americans call low budget).

 

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bd594 Christmas Jumper (1998)
A video was posted by YouTube user bd594 from Toronto, Canada, over the weekend. Not only does the knit from Goodwill feature a festive tartan, it is adorned with a tinsel Christmas tree and is attached to a working toy train set which has also been decorated with cheap LED lights.

 

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Gehard Demetz Life without Christmas (2017)
‘In his sculptures Demetz merges personalities and describes the process in which alien views, motives and behaviors merge into one’s own self. Demetz recognizes in this process the emergence of an autonomous form; two or more individual stories dissolve into each other and form a new, independent sculpture.’

 

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Norman Rockwell Christmas Rush (Tired Salesgirl on Christmas Eve) (1947)
‘Rockwell consistently strove to imbue his paintings with a strong sense of authenticity, contributing to the idea that they were painted from life. Yet in reality the artist’s most complex compositions were thoroughly planned and staged productions. In 1937, encouraged by a younger generation of illustrators that included Steven Dohanos and John Falter, Rockwell similarly began to use photography to assist with compositional design. He typically began the creative process by sketching the scene as he imagined it. Only after painstakingly collecting the appropriate props, choosing his desired models and scouting the locations required to achieve his desired scene would photography sessions begin in his studio or elsewhere on site. Rockwell rarely took these photographs himself, however, preferring to be free to adjust each element while a hired photographer captured shots under his direction.’

 

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Blake McKinnon Slay Bells (2021)
Slay Bells is a Christmas-themed survival horror game inspired by 80’s slasher movies and PS1 horror games. Try to make your way home on Christmas eve as you’re stalked by a maniacal axe wielding Santa who is out for BLOOD. Traverse city streets, back alleys and an abandoned subway station, find a variety of useful tool and weapons and avoid Mr Claus at all costs! Oh, and the flashlight does NOT run out of battery.’

 

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Thomas Hirschhorn North Pole (2004)
Wood, cardboard, trestles, blue fabric, tape, chain, red spray paint, prints, bowl, screws, nails, hammer, screw gun, wire

 

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‘French chocolate company Alain Ducasse has released a dried fruit and nut-covered festive chocolate tree that comes in a flat-pack box. The 20-centimetre-tall tree, created by graphic designer Pierre Tachon, is made up of six dark chocolate discs that gradually decrease in size to form a cone shape when stacked together. Each of the discs has a hole in the middle, which allows them to be assembled around a central chocolate rod that makes up the trunk of the tree. A separate cone piece attaches to the top of the tree to complete its appearance, and a thicker disc of chocolate creates a standing base. The box also includes a pair of white gloves to stop the chocolate from melting during assembly, and to keep the builder’s hands clean.’

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Trent Parke The Christmas Tree Bucket (2007)
‘Parke photographs friends and family at Christmas. The viewer is left to make imaginative sense of images of barbeques, screaming children, a burning gingerbread house and even the photographer himself vomiting into the infamous Christmas Tree Bucket. Says Parke: “It was there–while staring into that bright red bucket, vomiting every hour on the hour for fifteen hours straight–that I started to think how strange families, suburbia, life, vomit and in particular, Christmas really was.”‘

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hey. Cool, yeah, me too: the Cornish. I didn’t watch the match but Japan’s win did make me happy, as did Germany’s loss for some reason. Have a footie weekend! ** Gick, Ha! Thanks. I hope your weekend lets you barrel through it like a train. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Oh, yeah, I agree that it’s a much more interesting list than the prior ones. Who wouldn’t have quibbles. The fact that the only experimental non-narrative films they could think of were the obvious Deren and Marker candidates is depressing, but very unsurprising. The social media offended male hoo-hah is so predictable and sad. I hope your mom’s knees improve and right themselves ASAP. I’ll check out your musical recommendations, thank you. Everyone, Steve reviews the gay male rom-com movie ‘Spoiler Alert’ here if it’s on your moviegoing agenda for some strange reason. ** malcolm, Ah, a fellow Nace fan. Do you like Body/Head too? His new album’s a beauty, and the two other videos from it are pretty much just as beautiful. I know the name Ethel Cain, but I haven’t heard the work yet. She’s playing here? But, oh, sold out, okay. I’ll find her recordings and get them in my bank. My bank being my mind, I guess. I’m basically alright now, health wise. Do you have any glory planned for your weekend, and did glory infuse the two days by choice or accident, I hope? ** Dominik, Hi!!! Oh, you know, taste is taste. The thing is to listen to whatever excites and inspires you, whatever that is. I’m just getting my desired hit mostly from the experimental wing of music these days for whatever reasons, but it’s all good. Well, except for Foo Fighters, ha ha. I’ll light a billion votive candles to supplement love’s efforts to get that company on the fiction track. Love projecting the gif at the top of this post on the living room wall of everyone’s house or apartment in the world for three hours starting now, G. ** NIT, I did! You are correct again, sir! And I spaced out and didn’t credit you, Jesus, but I have now corrected that. And if this blog could give you royalties, it would. Oh, dude, do work on stuff all day! I mean, … no brainer. Give Mr. Gluth my hugs and wishes for his impeccable well being. So great to see you, S! Love, me. ** Okay. It’s Xmas on the blog this weekend. Merry Xmas, everybody. See you on Monday.

11 Comments

  1. Dominik

    Hi!!

    Ah, some festive spirit! I really like Trent Parke’s photographs. And for some reason, I have an urge to touch the trains in David Hammons’s piece. Their texture just seems so attractive.

    And the first GIF, of course – thank you, love! Love moving into to the world’s largest entirely edible gingerbread house, Od.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    Darlene Love !

  3. NIT

    Oh I don’t require credit, but thanks. Some funny stuff today – I think the only x-mass related stuff that is tolerable is usually funny in some way. Off now to see MG, who, fyi, is now Meg/Emmy. Anti holiday love -S

  4. _Black_Acrylic

    Roman Signer put on a great show at the DCA back in 2005. Since then I’ve gone back and explored his back catalogue, always enjoying his spinning Xmas trees.

    Every year we make a family ritual of playing John Waters’ Christmas album as we open our presents. This year we’ll be going round to my brother Nick’s place, and we might just carry on with that tradition.

  5. Montse

    Hi, Dennis! How are you? I hope the trip to LA was fruitful on the film front and full of Halloween related fun for both of you and Zac. It seems you are very busy with the new film at the moment. And that’s good, right? Oh, I thought you’d know about Jerk and Sitges. Yikes. All I can say it was quite a success. I saw many people talking about it. I was very happy for you. My crazy year is not that exciting, to be honest. Xet and I bought a flat and that was a huge thing for us. But it has been incredibly stressful, as you can imagine. We’re doing renovations at the moment while also living here. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety. Related to the this and life in general, but who hasn’t? We’re both very tired, but I think we’ll be more comfortable soon. Anyway, I think I never told you how much I loved “I Wished”. For me it was profoundly moving and heartbreaking. I thought a lot about you, your life and George. And what it all has meant for you and your work. Not sure if that’s what you’d like to hear. It must have been so difficult and painful to write. Another thing I wanted to tell you is that I’m planning a short trip to Paris next year, maybe January or February. And I’d really love to see you!

    Wow, this Xmas I like!

    Huge love to you from Xet and I!

  6. Steve Erickson

    Stereogum reviewed the Pavement musical and was not excited: https://www.stereogum.com/2207400/pavement-musical-slanted-enchanted-alex-ross-perry/reviews/concert-review/.

    I had to miss the performance of the Broadway K-pop musical I planned to see last week, because it conflicted with a press screening of the horrendous THE WHALE, but I later found out that it was canceled because one of the actors got sick. I still hope to see it, but it’s gotten pretty negative reviews.

    My mom seems to be feeling better, but now it’s impossible to talk to her because the hearing aids she bought a month ago suddenly stopped working and she’s basically deaf.

  7. David Ehrenstein

    Stanley Kubrick Speak

  8. Robert

    Hi Dennis–hope you had a good weekend. Managed to get some sleep over here and recover my sanity and get some writing and reading done. I haven’t been super into fiction lately for some reason but I’ve been reading Saul Kripke which has been fun.

    Have you ever listened to this? It’s a classic in my household: https://open.spotify.com/album/3cuUIfG1fpUkHzyFHHlWi1?si=eHa1D_3HTgStTpwwi5SG-Q

    Have you ever seen an upside down Christmas tree before? I was surfing the internet at work a few days ago and somehow stumbled on a bunch of places selling them and a bunch of lifestyle websites claiming they go back to the middle ages, but I couldn’t find anything I trusted that corroborated that.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7eHTNm1YtU This video is kinda neat to skim through.

  9. rafe

    Hey Dennis, have you tried AI generated imagery? I’ve been doing some fun things with making narratives out of them, animations too. I was really inspired by your GIF novels-images saying stuff as you scroll–so I thought I’d ask.
    https://huggingface.co/spaces/stabilityai/stable-diffusion is really fun so is dalle

  10. rafe

    Hey Dennis, I don’t know if my comment went through cause I think I plugged in an invalid email . I just was asking if you’d ever used text to image AI, because I’ve been using it to make stories and narratives, animations also, and it’s got a creepiness that i feel like you’d like. i was pretty inspired by your GIF novels, so i thought i’d ask.

  11. neonpajamas

    That Ben Quilty art is really fantastic. Makes me think of the Xmas movie ‘Rare Exports’ (2010) which is worth your while.

    As an aside, I was looking for a contact to send over my debut collection of poems. Inspired by Pleasantville & The Truman Show, it’s a book that takes place on one street and one street only, with blurbs from Zachary Schomburg, Lemony Snicket, CAConrad, and Dalton Day. Would love send a PDF and get it in your hands, as I adore this prolific blog and your writing/taste.

    All the best,
    Ben

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