The Dennis Cooper Papers

Text by
Danny Calvi

I wonder if Dennis Cooper had any idea in 1986, when he began writing his first novel 'Closer' in Amsterdam, that his words — and the diaries, snapshots, love letters, scrapbooks that went into fleshing it out — might resurface in the Dutch city as an exhibition twenty-six years later. Since March, Kunstverein, with the Fales Library and Special Collections of New York University, has been exhibiting a selection of primary source documents related to the cycle of books inspired by his first love, George Miles.

Bicurious/bipolar George looms large throughout the five novels. Dennis was 15 when he met his 12-year-old muse and talked him through a bad acid trip. From that point on, they were like Best Friends Forever (although their relationship wasn’t consummated until they were well into their twenties). By the time Dennis moved to Amsterdam, he’d lost touch with George who, unbeknownst to Dennis, had committed suicide — before he had a chance to know the writer’s epic memorial to their friendship.

It’s an absorbing collection of printed matter, and fans will find themselves killing half a day, easy, just reading through what’s on display… Like correspondence from William Burroughs and a pretty rad collection of zines. The exhibition also features videos of readings from the novels by Brett Easton Ellis and John Waters among others.

‘Closer: The Dennis Cooper Papers’ continues through 23 June, more about that on Kunstverein’s site. Totally unrelated to the ‘George Miles Cycle’, but totally worthwhile: Kunstverein will host Little Joe magazine’s festive evening of screenings, music and beverages at the fabulous Paleis van de Weemoed in the Red Light District of Amsterdam tonight.

All images courtesy of the artist and the Fales Library and Special Collections, New York

Published on 30 May 2012