Brian Dettmer

In this work, Brian Dettmer begins with an existing book and seals its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. Using knives, tweezers, pliers, and surgical instruments as his equipment, he carves one page at a time, interacting with the existing material, exposing each layer while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed. Images and ideas are revealed to expose alternate histories and memories. Sentences are cut and peeled out to create new contexts and more fluid meanings for narratives. Dettmer cannot control what is on the pages, but he can control how he reacts to it. His work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators. The completed pieces expose new relationships of the book’s internal elements, exactly where they have been since their original conception.

Dettmer’s work demonstrates how books and printed matter continue to develop and redefine their form and function. Repurposing encyclopedias and other antiquated books, such as dictionaries, he shows us, in very literal terms, what a book might look like if modified to suit the haphazard, multidirectional structure of the Internet. The rigid rectangle of the book dissolves into a chaos of new connections.

To learn more about Brian Dettmer, please visit www.briandettmer.com.


Brian Dettmer

Born: Chicago, Illinois. Lives/works: Atlanta, Georgia

Brian Dettmer received a BA from Columbia College, Chicago. He has had solo shows in New York, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Barcelona. His work has been exhibited at galleries and museums throughout North America and Europe, including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta; Chicago Cultural Center, Illinois; and Museum Rijswijk, Netherlands, among many others. Dettmer’s work has been featured on the CBS Evening News and National Public Radio, and in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Art News, Modern Painters, and Wired, among others. In 2012, he had a solo show in Maribor, Slovenia, as part of its celebration as the European Capital of Culture.

Dettmer’s work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Institute of Art, Ohio; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta; San Jose Museum of Art, California; and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C. Elemental, Dettmer’s solo show, which debuted at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, is traveling around the U.S. through 2013.

Community Partners 2017