Punk Papers

Mark Dirt Cover

Mark Morrisroe called himself dirt.

Mark Dirt, a new book, collects the writings, zines, and ephemera of Morrisroe (1959-1989), an artist known for his photographic experiments.

With Lynelle White, Morrisroe created Dirt Magazine, a zine of faux interviews and gossip with cut-out celebrity photographs. Morrisroe’s written stories and journals were stored with his ex boyfriend Ramsey McPhillips, who kept the archive for thirty years in his apartment. The papers have received little attention until now with the publication of Mark Dirt.

The writings are raw primary sources that appear as song lyrics or everyday rambling; one page from Dirt Magazine features a fanciful list of celebrities and what cigarettes they smoked. Medical records and letters from Mark’s friends, other artists and musicians, provide us with some insight into Mark’s life. The design of the book, with images bleeding off the page, is a nose dive into the mind of the artist with little guidance on how to interpret his retelling of the time period.

The book’s graphic designer James Brundage told LM, “it was a pretty interesting task – taking hundreds of TIFF files that weren’t arranged in any order and trying to piece together a narrative about his life.”

Morrisroe was part of Boston’s punk scene, made art, hustled, kept a diary of his adventures, and wrote poetry. He died from complications of HIV. Morrisroe’s art is in museums like the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles  .

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Mark Dirt Inside Spread

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2 thoughts on “Punk Papers

  1. Shoko says:

    so incredibly cool. you had me at the first line: “mark morrisroe called himself dirt.” perfect.

  2. Natalie says:

    Thank you! Writing about this book forced me to piece together Mark’s life and I find him even more fascinating than before.

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