Black Mark – Melbourne Art & Culture Critic
I started this blog in 2008 because there was a lack of critical discussion about Melbourne’s art world. There are over 200 art galleries in Melbourne and most art exhibitions go un-reviewed. There are many artists who exhibit but never get any critical review good or bad. I want to provide a critical view of the Melbourne’s visual arts and other aspects of culture. I want to cast a critical eye on the whole for Melbourne’s visual arts from the major galleries to the ARIs and alternative spaces, from public sculptures to the street art, from art history to fashion.
Black Mark has been included in PANDORA, Australia’s Web Archive.
Or read my interview on The Art and the Curious with Celeste Hawkins.
Black Mark was previously just titled Melbourne Art & Culture Critic - see my entry on the rebranding. “Black Mark” was what my biker neighbours called me because I was then, and I am now, dressed in black. I thought that it would be a good name for the Melbourne Art & Culture Critic.
Mark Holsworth – Writer and Artist
I have written articles, short stories, even poems for various publications. I was an editor with LookSmart Int., an internet directory, where I covered the arts. I have also written several plays, most notably, Sister Sister that was first performed at St. Martin’s Youth Theatre in Melbourne in 1983 and subsequently at the MCAE in 1985 and LaTrobe Uni in 1996. It has been performed often, principally because it is a play with two female and one male part. And I have written material for role-playing games and I still enjoy playing role-playing games weekly.
I have had solo exhibitions of my paintings in several Melbourne galleries, most recently at Viewing Space, along with participating in many group exhibitions. As a visual artist I have organised exhibitions, most notably Crypt Orchid, a goth art exhibition. I was on the management committee of 69 Smith St., an artist run initiative, for two years. In 2008 I was the volunteer co-ordinator for the Melbourne Stencil Festival and I was the secretary for the Melbourne Stencil Festival 2009 and 2010, when it re-branded itself as Sweet Streets. I have work in the collections of Dr Martens (Australia), Moreland City Council and private collectors.
I played keyboards and with technology in various bands. The first band that I was in, John’s Room had Richard Watts, now the compare of 3RRR’s SmartArts, as lead singer. Next there was Jabberwock, an experimental music group. I was then in Edie Sedgwick’s Overdose, a tribute band to the Velvet Underground with Ron Rude. And, finally Dada Tribe #373 a techno band that was part of Melbourne’s Clan Analogue.
“Child p-rn – or art censorship by wannabe Tory pollies” Crikey (5/6/13)
“Melbourne’s Selfie Mecca” Hyperallergic (30/5/13)
“Willl Coles – Concrete Chips” Trouble (March 2013)
“What the Hell Are We Going to Do With All This Junk?” Hyperallergic (23/11/12)
“Beware Street Artists Bearing Thought-provoking Gifts” Hyperallergic (7/11/12)
“Small Change for Big Culture” Trouble (Dec/Jan 2011)
What informs my criticism?
Academically I have a BA (Hons) from Monash University with a major in philosophy and minor in visual arts history. I have MA in philosophy from LaTrobe University where my thesis was about Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and the art world. I have a special interest in utopian art movements, Dada, Surrealism and their neo-Dadaist descendants.
I am more interested in looking at art in the context of life rather than individual artists or art. My art criticism is not about being a fan of an artist nor is it about hating the way that art has changed. I like James Gleeson’s idea of the art critic as an explorer, leading others to new and interesting discoveries. In this respect, my taste in art doesn’t matter, provided that I am able to accurately describe what I have found.
I am influenced by Arthur C. Danto and George Dickie institutional theory of art. I don’t have any essential characteristics for art. Art is that thing that is exhibited in art galleries, written about in art magazines or blogs, and, basically, what people call art. This is a slightly circular definition but it describes the social institution.
I have travelled a great deal in my life, giving me a wide range of cultural experiences: Yorba dancers, Greek and Roman antiquities and Japanese temples. In 2000 I travelled around Europe seeing 70 art galleries and museums in 60 days ranging from major institutions (the Prado, the Tate, the Uffizi) to art squats in Paris and Berlin.
Every week I see several exhibitions and walk the streets of Melbourne, as well as spending time reading and researching my blog entries. I would like to see more art exhibitions but I can’t be everywhere – there is so much to see but Melbourne’s geographic sprawl and poor public transport does not make it easy for me.