The Artlink Archive Project: Jacqueline Millner and the art writer's marathon

Cigdem Aydemir, Bombshell, 2013 single‐channel HD video with sound video still. © Cigdem Aydemir/ Copyright Agency, 2022.

In the first of a series of commissioned long-form online essays engaging with Artlink’s archive, Jacqueline Millner takes up the Art / Write / Read theme in a personal and historiographical narrative. Hers is a long-distance view of feminist art criticism and art writing, beginning in the mid-1990s in the wake of the high-water mark of critical theory in art schools. As a longstanding academic Millner has been attentive to links between philosophical developments (and fashions) in art writing across its various guises and aware of the swing from privileging the text to centring the art object in all its materiality. The parallel blurring of the lines between artist and writer alongside the rise of the artist-researcher and artist- curator are also noted. These broader conditions and their effects on art writing have particular interest because of their implications for the feminist project, a central concern of Millner’s practice as a writer and educator:

It was, after all, feminist readings and applications of Foucault and psychoanalysis that first spurred my thinking as an arts writer, their complex understanding of the relationship between power, ideology, images and bodies finally giving meta-language to my lived experience.

Millner has published widely and in-depth on these issues since 1994, contemporaneous with Artlink’s “Art and the Feminist Project”. The first anthology of Millner’s criticism Conceptual Beauty: Perspectives on Australian Contemporary Art in 2010 brought early writing into focus, and her 2021 Contemporary Art and Feminism (with Catriona Moore) adds to the professional discourse.

Cover image: Contemporary Art and Feminism, 2021.

Taking a different tone, Writing through the archive: the art writer’s marathon tracks this history from a more intimate writer-practitioner’s perspective: a backward glance inflected (in true feminist fashion) by the lived experience of writing.

Cover image: Conceptual Beauty: Perspectives on Australian Contemporary Art, 2010


Jacqueline Millner is Associate Professor of Visual Art at La Trobe University. Her latest book is the anthology Care Ethics and Art, co-edited with Gretchen Coombes (Routledge, 2021).