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Are You Experienced?

In covering the Paul Yore story I felt hopelessly out of my depth, as an art critic I wasn’t experienced reporting on politics and law. I persevered, determined to follow the story to the best of my abilities for over a year.

From the start, covering the case felt like a futile task as I already knew the outcome, it was as predictable as continued government funding for the National Gallery. Sure, it might not happen, especially if people treated the outcome as predictable and that any energy spent on it wasted but realistically, what are the chances?

If Paul Yore had been found guilty it would just been a further repeat of what happened to Mike Brown with the sentence reduced to practically nothing on appeal. To expect anything else is to expect a revolution, art galleries ransack, Chloe seized by police from Young and Jackson’s…. As much as such a purge might be the wet dream of some right wing conservatives, it is not something that magistrates and judges would want to encourage. What they want is to preserve the status quo.

However in Australia, the status quo includes the random persecution of artists. I’m concerned that this could happen again, not in Victoria, not for a few years at least, after the police pay costs for the case, but to another artist in another state in a couple of years. Following the police raid on the Linden Centre gave me the feeling of the repeated witch hunts in Australian culture.

The typical Australian mob chants: “We don’t like it. Ban it!” Art, books, clothing, people…. “We don’t like it. Ban it!” The mob needs to shut up, listen to reason and understand that just because they are the mob doesn’t mean that they should dictate taste. That instead of banning art and the expensive circus of police raids and court cases that we should engage in a democratic discussion. But what are the chances of that happening?

Being out of my depth with covering a criminal case there were things that I could learn, how to find court dates, get media statements from the police but as I learnt I also realised one of the drawbacks of being a blogger and freelance writer. What I was missing as a freelance writer and blogger was the experience of a large newsroom where I could have consulted with, or even collaborated with, the regular court reporters and the politics reporters.

Now I’m not asking for your sympathy but for you to consider a world with smaller editorial departments, smaller news rooms, more freelance journalists trying to tell larger stories. In the current world experience is too often dissipated rather than concentrated.

Sometimes I felt like a vulture lopping over to the carcass of an artist’s career, amid the flapping wings of other vultures and having a feed on the remains. Choosing to stop by Neon Parc on my rounds of galleries in the city to see if I could pick up something.

I wrote a summary of the case for the online art magazine Hyperallergic and an article for Vault Magazine that examined Yore’s use of collage and assemblage in the light of Max Delany’s testimony to the court.

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

6 responses to “Are You Experienced?

  • Dee

    As a Fine Arts student I followed the Paul Yore story with interest and wonder how many Australian artists self censor their art because of the small mindedness that seems inherent in Australian attitudes,when it comes to the discussion of controversial art.Hopefully people will start to read more bloggers (like yourself) and comment ,then move away from the mainstream fiasco that is considered journalism in Australia.A look at most art and culture reviews in mainstream newspaper editorials is a dismal experience IMO and it is the lone critics that ask the important questions that do matter.as they are the ones that inform and add to the discussions that need to be had.
    Thank you for reporting the Paul Yore trial with respect and honesty I felt Yore’s art had a confronting message behind it and I feel that it was created with the best of intentions.It is a shame that our laws are so antiquated and out of touch with the reality that is.

    • Mark Holsworth

      Thanks Dee, I’m glad that you got something out of it. It is not just the law but also the society that made the laws that has serious problems that can only be solved with discussion and not censorship. And we all need to contribute to that.

  • Eucalypso

    Have you been criticised for your reporting of this case? I thought you did an excellent job and it wasn’t reported as in depth anywhere else. There was a report recently on the impact of the decline of newsprint on the future of quality journalism, but some papers have never been interested in quality journalism anyway. You are asking informed questions from a arts perspective, which is why we read your blog, so just keep up the good work.

    As for the ultra-conservative vocal minority controlling public taste, it is interesting in the case of street art that graffiti removalists are the arbiter of what constitutes art and are therefore the curators of street art.

  • Mark Holsworth

    Mostly the criticism about my reporting of the case has come from myself, and a couple of editors, but I thought that there were some points worth making public particularly regarding the decline in quality journalism and why bloggers can’t compensate for the loss of experience.
    In Melbourne CBD and a few other suburbs city engineers have told the graffiti removal teams that if it looks like art and the owners haven’t asked for it to be removed then they should leave it alone. If only the police could exercise similar caution now.

  • Eucalypso

    I suppose I think blogging is to journalism what street art is to reputable gallery art. The fact it is open to anyone means there is a range of experience and talent. There is quality journalism among bloggers that experienced journalists don’t seem to have, just as there are great street artists and some uninspiring reputable gallery artists.

    That’s very encouraging regarding the city engineers. My only experience with the police in Adelaide is they act on a complaint from the public. Otherwise they don’t seem to mind or don’t go out of their way to do anything about it. I don’t know if it is as easy for graffiti artists though as it is a criminal offence to use solvent based products on unauthorised walls. A Melbourne street art short film showed that the police there are very hard on anyone putting anything up on a wall, so can it be very risky to work on an unauthorised wall no matter what the medium?

  • The Forgery Trial | Black Mark

    […] I have never observed a Supreme Court trial before but I have some experience with court reporting. (Read my blog post Are You Experienced?) […]

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