Project Description


Brian Dettmer

“The age of information in physical form is waning. As intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. Newer media swiftly flips forms, unrestricted by the weight of material and the responsibility of history. In the tangible world we are left with a frozen material but in the intangible world we may be left with nothing. History is lost as formats change from physical stability to digital distress.

The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge. This is the area I currently operate in. Through meticulous excavation or concise alteration I edit or dissect communicative objects or systems such as books, maps, tapes and other media. The medium’s role transforms. Its content is recontextualized and new meanings or interpretations emerge.”

Brian Dettmer was born in 1974 in Chicago, Illinois, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Dettmer’s art has been the subject of solo exhibitions at numerous institutions including the Hermann Geiger Foundation, Cecina, Italy, Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, GA, and Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA. His works have been exhibited internationally in shows at the Museum of Arts and Design, NY, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL, High Museum, Atlanta, GA, and Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL, among others. His sculptures can be found in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC, Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, IL, High Museum, GA, and Yale University Art Gallery, CT. He has lectured at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, and New York Public Library, New York, NY, and given a TED Talk for the TED Youth Conference. Dettmer’s work has been featured in several publications and programs including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Chicago Tribune, Art News, Modern Painters, Wired, The Village Voice, Harper’s, CBS News and NPR. 

Elegies is Brian Dettmer’s third show with Nancy Toomey Fine Art.