The Marc Holthof Archive: Media and Culture

Marc Holthof (°1951) regularly discusses new (international) exhibitions in Belgian art periodicals. As freelance art critic from 1985 till 2019, he has compiled a fascinating archive consisting of his writings on hundreds of exhibitions and events in the Belgian and international art world. Artists such as Ai Weiwei, Fred Bervoets, James Lee Byars, Hans Op de Beeck, Bert Danckaert and many others are reviewed. The archive was donated to the M HKA in 2019, in line with the donation of the archive of Hugo Roelandt, Holthof’s friend and collaborator.

Marc Holthof (links) met Hugo Roelandt, begin 1990

Marc Holthof (left) with Hugo Roelandt, early 1990

The archive consists almost entirely of born-digital documents, which is quite a challenge. After all, the digital world has other requirements than in the traditional paper archive – because of, amongst others, metadata, security issues, and the durability of the documents. Making Marc Holthof’s archive accessible is therefore a good exercise for the CKV to acquire know-how about archiving in the digital world. Today, the digital component is an important source of information and an integral part of art archives – still too much overlooked by archive creators.

The archive consists of essays by Marc Holthof, a selection of which was collected in 1995 in his book De Digitale Badplaats – over media en cultuur [The Digital Seaside Resort – About Media and Culture], and files of articles and interviews by him, published in Belgian newspapers and periodicals De Tijd, De Witte Raaf, HART Magazine, rekto:verso and Ons Erfdeel. As Holthof describes himself: ‘a constant in my texts is the breaking down of the barriers between art, photography, film, other visual media, and their social context.’

The archive is therefore an indispensable source of information for anyone interested in art journalism and criticism, as well as for the broader socio-cultural history of the end of the 20th century in Antwerp, Belgium and beyond.

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