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DES (originally published in 2013) is a Gesamtkunstwerk based on the artist's intimate obsession with the serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Martin Bladh finds an uncanny likeness in Nilsen's romantic fantasy world to that of his own, and by using the killer as a persona, a Hyde Double, he intends to uncover new sensations and unlock unknown extremes within himself. In his confessions, Nilsen refers to his victims as masterpieces akin to great renaissance statues; beauty released by murder, his hands transmuting the living matter into dead, aesthetic perfection. The relation between criminal and artistic expression: the artist’s yearning for the outlaw, the criminal world of forbidden desires, and the criminal’s need to express himself in an artistic, often theatrical way has attracted Bladh for years. The ambivalent relationship between the executioner and his victim is another leitmotiv which is constantly recurring in Bladh’s work, and in Nilsen’s Theatre of Death he finds the most sublime rendering of this discourse:  

an anonymous arena of necro-aesthetic devotion where the actor/director casts himself in the role of victim, but at the same time also as the ‘potential’ killer's intended victim; a murder which is to be executed by the scenario’s originator, the killer himself.” 

This profusely extended edition of DES collects a variety of different artistic meditations on the Nilsen case including Bladh’s own correspondence with the killer, an interview with the son of Nilsen’s 14th victim Graham Allen, staged photographic series, drawings, performance documentation, and psychogeographic writings.   


About the Author

Martin Bladh is a Swedish-born artist of multiple mediums. His work lays bare themes of violence, obsession, fantasy, domination, submission and narcissism. Bladh is a founding member of the post-industrial band IRM, the musical avant-garde unit Skin Area and co-founder of the publishing company Infinity Land Press. His published work includes To Putrefaction, Qualis Artifex Pereo, DES, The Rorschach Text, The Hurtin’ Club, Darkleaks - The Ripper Genome, Marty Page and The Torture of the 100 Pieces. He lives and works in London.

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