Mark Acklom

Above: photos of Mark Acklom. Collage credit: Oscopic.

Genet, Bataille .. Acklom

In photos Mark Acklom appears plausible ("acceptable, agreeable" SOED) but often very different. This is the special ability of the sociopath. And the talent, of course, of Highsmith's Talented Tom Ripley. Dickie Greenleaf: "Everybody should have one talent, what's yours?" Tom Ripley: "Forging signatures, telling lies... impersonating practically anybody." Like many sociopaths Acklom's game is deception--often carried-on out of a sheer love of treachery. Daily Mail: "Mark Acklom, 45, has been on the run for more than four years, having allegedly fleeced divorcee Carolyn Woods out of her £850,000 life savings while posing as a wealthy banker and MI6 agent. He is suspected of cheating dozens more by claiming to be a property developer, City broker, lawyer and even a gynaecologist. Acklom is alleged to have used dozens of false identities to stay one step ahead of the authorities. But the hunt switched to Switzerland, where he was arrested [this week]."

Photos of the "many faces" of Acklom (or a comparable sociopath-psychopath) should be studied by art photographers who claim to be interested in identity and photography. These posers reveal the malleability--or malleableness--of human identity in the realm of the photo-visual in a way that is far more compelling, absorbing mesmeric, irresistible, and compulsive, than, say, the ponderous works artist Gillian Wearing whose project is also based around an exploration of identity in the photo-visual realm.

The sociopath is an anti-artist of photography: the work is critical and creative but in an absolutely negative way. This mode of creativity offers no "contribution" to research, to culture, or to art-as-art. It is creativity as a strategy of misrepresentation, trickery, fraudulence, double-dealing, subterfuge, artifice. In critical theory the status of transgressive anti-art was a basic preoccupation of key thinkers such as Genet, Batallie and Baudelaire.

I would like to see Gillian moving around the planet under a series of assumed identities rather than popping up all too predictably in black-framed photos in contemporary art museums (next to a curatorial text-panel about art-and-identity).

(7 July 2018)