• Professor Susan Best: FASST II 2015.

Reparative Aesthetics (view here)

The Finest Art Seminar Series Today (FASST II).

PanOptic Press | Little Tokyo Two | Happy Boy | SoFA. 

Sunday 26 July 2015. 

The second seminar in our 2015 series featured two Brisbane based, internationally recognised, authors, academics, with one, a practicing artist. We felt privileged to introduce Professor Susan Best (Reparative Aesthetics) and Dr William Platz (Life Drawing, Yawning Zombies and the Dragan Ilic Affair), both keynote speakers from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. You can view Sue’s insightful presentation here.

Angela Goddard: Director of Griffith University Art Gallery.

Angela Goddard | Director Griffith Artworks | Griffith University Art Gallery and Griffith University Art Collection.

Angela Goddard  Director of Griffith Artworks, Griffith University Art Gallery and Griffith University Art Collection – was expressly present to introduce the current work of Professor Susan Best.

Reparative Aesthetics: Rosângela Rennó and Fiona Pardington explores the question of how artists represent the disempowered without pity or voyeurism. Rennó and Pardington, artists based in the southern hemisphere (Brazil and New Zealand), take a reparative approach.

Rennó’s 1998 Vulgo [Alias] series uses clinical archival images of the backs of prisoner’s heads from the Sao Paulo State Penitentiary Museum, taken between 1920-40. The patterns of hair whorls are supposedly as unique as fingerprints, and the images bring a dignity and individualisation to these anonymous convict subjects. Pardington’s images of life casts of Oceanic people taken in the early 19th century reclaim shameful relics of the colonial past and transforms them into powerful, yet distanced, presences.

Both artist’s photographic portraits from unlikely sources are not, however, redemptive or restorative in the straightforward way one might suppose. For them, reparative aesthetics signals the capacity to assimilate the consequences of destruction and violence. (1)

Angela Goddard, 2015.

Professor Susan Best

Professor Susan Best

Professor Susan Best is the convenor of Fine Art and Art Theory at the Queensland College of Art. She is an art historian with expertise in the area’s of critical theory and modern and contemporary art. (2)

Reparative Aesthetics: Witnessing in Contemporary Art Photography offers a new way of thinking about the role of politically engaged art. It examines the work of four women photographers from the southern hemisphere who are pioneering a reparative approach to art about shameful histories such as: the harsh and unjust treatment of indigenous peoples; the cruel institutionalisation of vulnerable groups; the disappearance of dissidents; and the carnage of civil war. They are: Rosângela Rennó (Brazil), Anne Ferran (Australia), Fiona Pardington (New Zealand), and Milagros de la Torre (Peru/USA).

These artists make a radical break with the dominant approaches to political art (institutional critique, identity politics), which still follow the precepts of the anti-aesthetic tradition. The anti-aesthetic tradition privileges critique over aesthetic engagement, and rejects the importance of traditional aesthetic concerns such as beauty, feeling, expression and judgment. In contrast, these artists use a range of complex aesthetic strategies to engage audiences with these histories and to transform our feelings about them. (3)

© Susan Best all rights reserved.

Sue is currently completing a book titled Reparative Aesthetics: Witnessing in Contemporary Art Photography (contracted by Bloomsbury Philosophy). This book offers a new way of thinking about the role of politically engaged art. And it is this particular oeuvre, taken from the pages of her most recent book that Susan will be exploring throughout Reparative Aesthetics, the talk.

Her previous book, Visualising Feeling: Affect and the Feminine Avant-garde (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011) focuses on four women artists of the 1960s and 70s: Eva Hesse, Lygia Clark, Ana Mendieta and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. It shows how their work transforms the avant-garde protocols of the period by introducing an affective dimension to late modern art. In 2013, it was short-listed for the American College Art Association Frank Jewett Mather award for art criticism.

Sue is currently curating an exhibition of the work of Fiona Pardington and Rosângela Rennó for the University of Sydney Art Gallery which is showing through to the 25 September 2015, and will tour to Griffith University Art Gallery from 30 April to 2 July 2016She is also a member of the curatorium for Joan Brassil’s retrospective at Campbelltown Centre for the Arts and remains a consistent force within the Australian and International arts sector. (4)



Panoptic Press in association with SoFA, LT2, Happy Boy and Reach Media would like to extend our appreciation toward the following Brisbane based galleries, all of whom encouragingly supported this initiative by providing a selection of books, catalogues, bookmarks and cards, both for sale and gifts to be handed out on the Sunday of 26-7-2015, including:

The University of Queensland Art Museum: James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre (Building 11), University Drive , The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Q 4067.

Heiser Gallery: 90 Arthur Street Fortitude Valley Brisbane Q 4006.

Milani Gallery: 54 Logan Road, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, Q 4102.

Griffith University Art Gallery226 Grey St, South Brisbane, Q 4101

QUT Art Museum: 2 George Street, Brisbane, Q 4000.

Queensland Centre for Photography: PO Box 5848, West End, Q 4101.

The Institute of Modern Art: Ground Floor, Judith Wright Centre 420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Q 4006.

Jan Murphy Gallery: 486 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, Q 4006.

Panoptic Press is a converged media, cross sector collaboration between the disciplines of art, art history, philosophy, psychology and the creative industries. Through the development of an ecosystem of disciplines, allowing ideas and concepts to mingle and cohabitate, finding realisation and understanding through shared networks, Panoptic Press is designed to grow a critical voice throughout the broader arts sector. Philosophically we foster a wide community of arts accessible to the broader community. Affecting community engagement with the humanities and commerce, Panoptic Press is pleased to be associated with the following organisations.


(1) Goddard, Angela. Reparative Aesthetics: Rosângela Rennó and Fiona Pardington. FASST II, 26-7-2015.

(2) Feel free to navigate to Susan Best’s Griffith University staff page.

(3) Best, Susan. Précis to Reparative Aesthetics, FASST II, 26-7-2015.

(4) Above n2.