In his confessions Nilsen muses over his victims and has referred to them as masterpieces akin to Michelangelo statues; a beauty released by him the artist, his hands animate the dead – or in this case living -matter into aesthetic perfection. The way he directed his puppet theatre in the late seventies and early eighties is in many ways similar to the carefully controlled and arranged nudes of Rudolf Schwarzkogler’s actions in the mid sixties or the erotically charged mise en scénes Hans Bellmer staged for his doll in the thirties.
During his three decades in prison Nilsen has devoted himself to the arts: poetry, film manuscripts, musical composition, painting and has just lost a fierce struggle with the Home Office to get the permission to publish his biography History of a Drowning Boy.
The relation between criminal and artistic expression: the artist’s yearning for the outlaw, his criminal world and desires and the criminal’s need to express himself in an artistic, often theatrical way has attracted Swedish artist Martin Bladh for years. According to him the Nilsen case might possibly be the most prominent example of this discourse. The tension between the executioner and the victim has always been Bladh’s main leitmotiv; both parts are of equal importance to him:
“When I put myself in a situation which I find degrading or even repugnant, I wear the mask of the victim. When I make use of authentic voices from real life victims, put them in a new context where they are forced to act as characters in a peepshow staged and directed by me, I take on the mask of the perpetrator.
Dennis Nilsen’s sexual fantasies strike me as potent representations of this paradox. Him impersonating a corpse – his own and that of his victim – in front of the
mirror brings to mind Baudelaire’s poetic sublimation
“I am the wound and the knife.” In these performances Nilsen becomes the murder victim, but it’s his victim, and he is the killer. Nilsen became my dark looking glass reflection and the mirror became be the primary arena of our sadomasochistic theatre, our corpses the universal vessels of necro-aesthetic fulfilment and devotion.”
DES collects a variety of artistic meditations on the Nilsen case, ranging from the artist’s correspondence with the killer, staged
photographs, drawings and interviews executed over a period of six years.
Institute Of Paraphilia Studies 2013
A4 Softcover, 154 pages
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