"Lorange, A., ‘Reading paintings and poetry’, Blackbox Manifold, issue 16, 2016.
In Milledge’s works we read and see language as another material. Phrases and words from conversations, poems, literature, the occult, political ecology, feminist theory and even Tinder find their way into her paintings, either as titles or text-based works. While the interplay between the visual and the textual have long histories (often too overdetermined by the historical avant-garde, for these histories abound everywhere) Lorange suggests going the other way, where paintings can be read ‘in the manner that we read poems’. This suggestion of reading a painting as a poem is particularly helpful for thinking about an artist who approaches language as the material it is, sensuously handling it in order to move it beyond its instrumental applications, or allowing it to enter like a breeze through an open window: chance occurrences, erotic gaffes, academic bosh, and solecisms all seem to stick. Imagery and text are treated equally. Words become images and images words.
In paintings such as Self-Reflexive Critique: Alpha Mu and Self-Reflexive Critique: Iota (both 2016), ‘About Me’ descriptions on the dating app Tinder appear on glass in the form of alphabetically arranged lists. The identities – importantly all men – remain anonymous but their self-descriptions have jumped from the privacy of the screen and onto glass (or, from sort of glass to another). For example, in one sequence we read: ‘Just a man having a red hot crack at life/ Jus [sic] enjoying this crazy ride called life/ Just having a look/ Just heard of this … Don’t know if it really works/ Just people watching really/ Just want to meet some chilled drama free people’. As Lorange writes of these paintings, ‘As poetic sequence, then, it is a variety of epic (because it aims in its very concept to be complete) that stages a small drama: accumulating an ever-increasing cast of players who, in their one line each, reveal an ecology of masculinities’. By turning the language of Tinder into a painting/poem/encyclopedic record, these self-descriptions, recontextualised and ordered, begin to appear as a cohesive image-poem. With their accompanying profile pictures omitted, Milledge approaches the language like a strange new data (that is, masculinity is seen for what is, suggesting that critique begins with recognising patterns)."
"Text plays a critical role in her work; many of her paintings include text, and the titles she chooses for individual works and collections are decidedly discursive, contributing to the ongoing development of a set of philosophical investigations that preoccupy Milledge in her practice as it transforms over time (these preoccupations include conversations with Georges Bataille, moments of exchange with friends, critiques and parodies, and so on). The relationship between the text in the paintings and the paratextual content that accompany them is key to her work’s overall literariness; the text-work made visually and contextually ‘painterly’ speak back to the more polemical, though often still phrase-based or fragmentary provocations of the titles and collection names. Together, the discursive components make something like a statement of poetics; a critical orbit in which the work orients itself towards an engagement that is, perhaps above all, readerly."
Astrid Lorange, Reading paintings and poetry 2016, Blackbox Manifold Issue 16