Write to Exist


Nothing about art may be taken for granted today. Yet the critical silence following the demise of postmodernism and the waning of ‘theory’ is marked by an apparent inability of artists and critics to articulate art’s changing role. This is despite Australia’s overwhelmingly conservative political climate and the appearance of new forms of performative, mediated, collaborative and relational approaches to art making.

This paper argues for the importance of writing as part of art education. It starts by reconsidering some well known figures for whom writing and art practice have been integrally linked – including Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, Ian Burn and Andrea Fraser. Drawing on these exemplars, I consider various models and methods for emerging artists writing about their own art and visual culture more generally.

Writing, I argue, can assist students to understand the fundamental and shifting role of critique in contemporary art practice, and invite a continual reflection on the institutional and political structures of art-making. Only through self-reflexive critical approaches can we continue to assume that art is uniquely placed to counter a world in which, as Grant H. Kester puts it, ‘we are reduced to an atomised pseudo-community of consumers, our sensibilities dulled by spectacle and repetition’.

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Daniel PALMER:

Daniel Palmer is a Lecturer in the Theory Department of the Faculty of Art & Design at Monash University. He was previously Curator of Projects at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, and has also taught at the University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts. Palmer’s research and professional practice covers the areas of art history, photomedia, cultural studies and media theory, intersecting with photographic and new media art curatorship. He is well known for his writings on contemporary Australian art in journals such as Art & Australia, Real Time, Broadsheet, Photofile and Frieze.