Magazine article Artforum International

Samuel Beckett

Magazine article Artforum International

Samuel Beckett

Article excerpt

CENTRO ANDALUZ DE ARTE CONTEMPORANEO

Samuel Beckett's prodigious literary work today seems like a monument to the mistrust of the word as a means of communication. This exhibition, titled "Beckett Films," was perfectly suited to the monastic atmosphere of the galleries of the Monasterio de Santa Maria de las Cuevas (known as the Cartuja), seat of the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo. It also perfectly demonstrated the failure--or triumph, depending--of Beckett's ideas. From the pioneer piece Film, produced in 1964, to the version for German television of his final work, Was wo (What Where, 1985) originally conceived as a play and produced just a few years before Beckett's death, the works shown here exuded austerity, darkness, and solitude--terms apparently alien to our brazen contemporary world infested by noise and the mass media. In this sense, it could be said that the ideas that Beckett held dear are far from central to contemporary culture. At the same time, Beckett's experimental side, his innovative language, and his sparse (to some, even pessimistic) vision of existence serve as a refuge from the mire that is current mass media and the culture industry. Nonetheless, it was in the sphere of television, specifically with Suddeutscher Rundfunk in Stuttgart, that Beckett carried out a good many of his projects from 1966 to 1985. Considering how television has evolved into a medium for entertainment rather than serious thought, it seems astonishing that Beckett would have delved into that world. But despite the fears about television voiced by thinkers such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, at the time Beckett was working many still believed that the medium could foster risk. …

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