Staff Profiles

Location: F Block, Level 2, Room F217
Phone: 60777
Fax: 60719

Assoc.Prof. Susan Best

School of Art History and Art Education


BA (Hons), PhD (USyd)

Dr Best has expertise in critical theory and modern and contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on conceptual art, women's art and Latin American art.  She teaches courses on: Theories of the Image; Abstraction; Psychoanalysis and Art; Art, Gender, Sexuality and the Body; and Modern Latin American Art.

Her book, Visualizing 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. The project was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant. In 2012, the book won the best book prize awarded by the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. In 2013, it was short-listed for the American College Art Association Frank Jewett Mather award for art criticism.

She is currently working on a book titled Reparative Aesthetics: Witnessing in Contemporary Art Photography (contracted by Bloomsbury Philosophy). It examines the work of women artists from the Southern Hemisphere who adopt a reparative approach to shameful events of the past: Anne Ferran, Milagros de la Torre, Rosângela Rennó, Ana Tiscornia, and Fiona Pardington.

She is also a member of the curatorium for Joan Brassil's retrospective at Campbelltown Centre for the Arts.

Selected recent publications (from 2007)


Best, S. (2011) Visualizing Feeling: Affect and the Feminine Avant-garde (London: IB Tauris).

Best, S. (2011) Robyn Backen, Backspace: The Art of Communication, Works 1990-2010 (Sydney: Bocalatte Publishing).

Chapters in Books

Best, S.  (2013) “Lygia Clark, the Paris Years: The Body as Medium and Material,” The Aesthetics of Matter. Modernism, the Avant-Garde, and Material Exchange, ed. Sarah Posman, Anne Reverseau, David Ayers, Sascha Bru, Benedikt Hjartarson (Berlin: Walter de Grutyer).

Best S.  (2011) "The Legacy of Tropicália in the work of Rivane Neuenschwander," Sweat: The Subtropical Imaginary, ed. Andrew McNamara (Brisbane: Institute of Modern Art)

Best, S. (2009) “Relational Art, Identification and Social Bonds,” The Institutionalization of  Contemporary Art, ed. Lisbeth Rebollo Gonçalves (São Paulo: Museu Arte Contemporãnea, U of Sao Paulo) 

Articles in Refereed Journals

Best, S. (2012) "Against Identification: Gerard Byrne's Brechtian Tendencies," Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 224-41

Best, S. (2012) "Witnessing and Untimely Images: Anne Ferran’s ‘Lost to Worlds’,” History of Photography, 36.3, 326-336.

Best, S. (2007) “Aesthetics and Affect: Rethinking Visual Pleasure,” Sp. Section on Silvan Tomkins. Theory and Psychology 17.4: 504-514.[translated into Spanish as “Repensando el placer visual: estética y afecto,” Un mundo de afectos, EXIT Book # 15, Verrano, 2011, 50-59.]

Best, S. (2007) “The Serial Spaces of Ana Mendieta,” Art History 30.1 57-82,

Best, S. (2007) “Personal Experience and Impersonal Aesthetics: The Video Work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982),” Reading Room: A Journal of Art and Culture, 1. 126 - 139.

Curated Exhibitions

Best, S. (2012) “Vibration, Vibraçao, Vibración: Latin American Art of the 1960s and 70s in the Power Collection,” University of Sydney Art Museum, 10 July-14 September.

Current Postgraduate supervision topics

Performance art in New Zealand

Performance art in Australia

Claude Cahun

Asger Jorn

Completed Postgrads

Louise Mayhew, Ph D on Female collectives in Australian Art (2014)

Eve Rodriguez Riestra, M Phil on Site-specificity in contemporary art (2013)

Francesca Mataraga, Ph D on Expanded Painting (joint supervision with School of Art) (2012)

Mariana Pagotto, M Art Theory on Rosangela Renno's photography (2010)

Tim Laurence, M Art Theory on Andrea Zittel and Jorge Pardo and design art (2006)

Robyn Backen, M Art Theory on analog and digital languages in art (2003)

Nicola Teffer, Ph D on vision and representation (2001)