Brian Van Wetering

Artist Bio:
Brian Van de Wetering is a photographic artist living and working in San Diego, California where he was born and raised. Brian has been interested in the arts since his youth and dabbled in acting, lighting design, set design, music, and the visual arts including painting, sculpture, and collage. During college he worked at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater as a stagehand. A degree in computer science and minor in English led to a career in software development while playing in a punk band provided an artistic outlet. But his interest in the visual arts remained unfulfilled.
In 2010, Brian began to seriously pursue an artistic practice centered around photography as his primary tool. He continues to develop his unique artistic vision with projects and interests including self-portraiture, the constructed image, and conceptual work. He incorporates a wide variety of cameras and techniques in his work including medium format film, toy cameras, analogue instant photography, lumen prints, found photography, and collage.
Brian’s work has been featured in numerous juried exhibitions around the United States including at the DNJ Gallery in Santa Monica, The Los Angeles Center of Photography, and the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont among others. His work has been featured by Jonathan Blaustein on and by Aline Smithson on Brian continues to play in the Irish punk band he helped found nearly 30 years ago.

Artist Statement:
Words Leak Out – Found Photographs and Found Poems
This body of work is motivated by my long-time interest and fascination with the written word. In college I pursued a minor in English, and it was then that I first started experimenting with found poems and the cut-up methods made famous by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin.
My most recent foray into this realm started while going through my mother’s ephemera after her death – transcribing correspondence, sorting through her many bins of photographs. I could not help thinking about this trove of found material as fodder for my art.
And so, I began working on my own variation of black-out poetry where I place a snapshot over a book page and cut to reveal selected words on that page, creating a poem. I paste the two together creating a new, one-of-a-kind object. The process is not random. I carefully consider and select the passages and images. I have an open-ended conversation with the source materials without knowing where it will go or where it will end, staying open to free association, flipping back and forth between my sources and my imagination until something sticks.
Early on, I noticed that shorter verses work best in this context, and this led me to investigate haiku as a poetic form for this work. All I knew of haiku came from grade school: an unrhyming, three-line verse of five, seven, and five syllables. I was determined to learn as much as I could about the history of haiku and eagerly trotted off down that rabbit hole where I discovered a whole world of Japanese, short-form poetry: Tanka, Renga, Hokku, Haikai, Senryu, and Haiga. I discovered a long tradition in China and Japan of pairing images with verse in one-of-a-kind works of painting and calligraphy. Although my poetry has been strongly influenced by these traditions, I stop short of including my poems in these traditional genres, rather my poems result from the intersection of these traditional forms with writing techniques pioneered by Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs, and Tom Phillips, and the surrealists’ and Dadaists’ use of found and appropriated materials.
My poems are not so much composed, as discovered and collected like rare moths. I am the collector searching for just the right combination of picture and words and, in the process of collecting, destroying both the book and the photograph.
In my upbringing, books and photographs were treated as special objects. To take these precious items and destroy them in the making of something new is, for me, revolutionary, iconoclastic, even subversive. I mount each one-of-a-kind poem in a shadow box with pins like that rare moth, displayed as a cherished, collected object. This meticulous and reverent presentation is, in part, a reaction to my discomfort in sacrificing books and photographs in the service of art.
This project started while I was in isolation because of a world-wide pandemic and spending far too much time in front of my computer screen. The purely physical aspects of this work are a welcome antidote to excessive screen time. Cutting and pasting aren’t just a convenient user interface metaphor, but actual physical acts with multiple sensory inputs – the smell of old books, the sound of the pages as I leaf through them and ultimately tear them out, the friction of the blade as it slices through the slick surface of the photograph. It is refreshing to work with my hands, not just a mouse and keyboard.

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