Brian Dillon

Brian Dillon is the UK editor of Cabinet and the author of In the Dark Room, Sanctuary, and The Hypochondriacs. He is an editorial board member of TATE Etc. and Art Review, and a regular contributor to numerous journals including Artforum and frieze. Since 2008 he has been AHRC Research Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Kent, Canterbury.

  • Ruins

    Ruins

    Brian Dillon

    A comprehensive examination of “ruins” of the modern era in contemporary art and cultural theory.

    The “ruins” of the modern era are the landmarks of recent art's turn toward site and situation, history and memory. The abiding interest of artists in ruination and decay has led in particular to the concept of the modern ruin—an ambiguous site of artistic and architectural modernism, personal and collective memories, and the cultural afterlife of eras such as those of state communism and colonialism. Contemporary art's explorations of the ruin can evoke on the one hand diverse experiences of nostalgia and on the other a ceaselessly renewed encounter with catastrophes of the recent past and apprehensions of the future. For every relic of a harmonious era or utopian dream stands another recalling industrial decline, environmental disaster, and the depredations of war.

    This anthology provides a comprehensive survey of the contemporary ruin in cultural discourse, aesthetics, and artistic practice. It examines the development of ruin aesthetics from the early modern era to the present; the ruin as a privileged emblem of modernity's decline; the relic as a portal onto the political history of the recent past; the destruction and decline of cities and landscapes, with the emergence of “non-places” and “drosscape”; the symbolism of the entropic and decayed in critical environmentalism; and the confusing temporalities of the ruin in recent art—its involution of timescales and perspectives as it addresses not just the past but the future.

    • Paperback $24.95
  • Objects in This Mirror

    Objects in This Mirror

    Brian Dillon

    Objects in This Mirror is a collection of essays on contemporary art, literature, landscape, aesthetics, and cultural history. Beginning with a polemical and personal defense of generalism and curiosity, Brian Dillon explores the variety of themes it is possible today to corral within the rubric of the critical essay. These pieces engage with the work of such artists as Tacita Dean, Gerard Byrne, Andy Warhol, and Sophie Calle; with the ruinous territories that haunt the work of Robert Smithson and Derek Jarman; with the ambiguous figures of the charlatan, the vandal, the hypochondriac, and the dandy. Taking seriously the playful remit of the essay as form, Dillon treats of compelling obscurities: gesture manuals of the nineteenth century, the history of antidepressant marketing, the search for a cure to the common cold. Whether his topic is the nature of slapstick, his love of the writings of Roland Barthes, or the genre of the essay itself, he is as much concerned with the form of criticism today as with its varied and digressive subjects.

    • Paperback $27.00
  • Sanctuary

    Sanctuary

    Brian Dillon

    Sanctuary is a fiction set in the ruins of a Modernist building on the outskirts of a city in Northern Europe. The structure, a Catholic seminary built in the 1960s and abandoned twenty years later, embodies the failure of certain ambitions: architectural, civic, and spiritual. But it is the site too of a more recent disappearance. A young artist, intent on exploring the complex and its history, has gone missing among the wreckage. Months later his lover visits the place, unsure what she is looking for, and finds herself drawn into the strange nexus of energies and memories that persist there. Sanctuary is a story about what survives—of bodies, ideas, objects and the artistic or literary forms that might describe them—in the wake of catastrophe. Invoking key works of the last century—the fiction of Samuel Beckett and Alain Robbe-Grillet, the art of Robert Smithson, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Chris Marker and Andrei Tarkovsky—it maps a small but resonant portion of the ruins of the recent past.

    Brian Dillon was born in Dublin in 1969. He is the UK editor of Cabinet magazine and AHRC Research Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Kent. He is the author of Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives (Penguin, 2009) and a memoir, In the Dark Room (Penguin, 2005). His writing appears regularly in such publications as frieze, Artforum, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, and the Wire. He lives in Canterbury.

    • Hardcover $22.00