Ce n'est pas un livre

“World Series,” Brian Dettmer’s take on the encyclopedia

Of the artists profiled in Gestalten’s recent release Papercraft, Brian Dettmer steals the show. All the artists are doing interesting things with paper, but Dettmer is on another level altogether. More than an artist who works with paper, Dettmer is a book sculptor, or maybe book surgeon is more accurate. He’s so meticulous in his execution, it’s more like he’s performing a book autopsy than working as an artist in a studio.

“I begin with an existing book and seal its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. I cut into the cover of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and other surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each page while cutting around ideas and images of interest.”

If Dettmer is part artist and part surgeon, the he is part archeologist as well. He literally digs away to reveal what would probably remain undiscovered had the book in question been left on a shelf. Instead he takes it down, dusts it off and brings it to our attention. Never has an old set of encyclopedias looked so good.