On n’y peut rien.

March 15, 2007 at 2:49 pm | Posted in art, books, spectacle | Comments Off on On n’y peut rien.


Tuesday night I attended the opening of the Samuel Beckett exhibit at Pompidou. I have to admit, I was a bit curious what an exhibit about a writer was doing at a visual art museum, and well… I’m not sure I got a very good answer, other than this year happens to be the Centennial Samuel Beckett Festival, and Pompidou wanted in on the action.

The first part of the exhibit was devoted primarily to various artists’ interpretations of and riffs on Beckett’s work, and I found it a little haphazard and vague. Representations of mouths, bodies, skulls (see above) were supposed to hint at Beckett’s reductive, minimalist approach to the human condition, I guess. But while the pieces on display might have worked in a different context, next to a few pages of Beckett’s writing they seemed (as they were) derivative and a little banal.

Further along in the exhibit, however, Beckett’s own voice emerges in various teleplays and experimental films, and that part resonated with me a lot more. I particularly liked his 1964 collaboration with Buster Keaton on the themes of perception and concealment, plus the adorable (if puzzling) video projection of men running around a square in colored robes (sorry, it really defies description). And though I was too tired to properly appreciate it at the time, the prescient video piece “What Where” is still running through my mind days later.

All in all, it was a pretty challenging exhibit, and Beckett’s own work came off a lot better than any of the works he inspired (or was inspired by). Still, I don’t know that I would recommend the exhibit to someone who was completely unfamiliar with Beckett’s work, so you might want to brush up by reading En Attendant Godot before you go.


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