If You See Something, Say Something: The grammar of art writing
with The Good Copy

Sun 19 Mar 17, 3pm

Past program

Free entry

NGV International

Melbourne Art Book Fair discussion space
Ground Level

“International Art English prescribes not only that you open with a dependent clause, but that you follow it up with as many more as possible, embedding the action deep within the sentence, effecting an uncanny stillness. Better yet: both an uncanny stillness and a deadening balance.” – Alix Rule & David Levine

MONA calls it Art Wank; John Berger named it “mystification”. What is this mysterious language that people start using the moment talk turns to art? Are they possessed by adverbial spirits? Have they got a grudge against finite verbs? Why does everything happen in both ‘spatial’ and ‘non-spatial’ ‘space’?

In this 30-minute presentation, local grammar nerds Penny Modra and Meredith Forrester of The Good Copy will take a look under the bonnet of art writing and report back.


Penny Modra is editorial director at The Good Copy a Melbourne-based writing studio and grammar school. She is a regular ‘grammar enthusiast’ guest on ABC Radio Melbourne and co-founder of Crossword Club (Collingwood). She has written about visual arts and other things for The Age, Vice and Smith Journal, and copy-edited everything from Head Full of Snakes magazine to PhDs that are due in twelve hours. Penny was a co-editor of Melbourne’s experimental poster publishing project Is Not Magazine (2005–2008, RIP).

Meredith Forrester is an editor at The Good Copy and a copy editor and proofreader at others. She enjoys making style guides and editing unpresidented tweets.

Workshops NGV International