Beckett: The Failure Sense

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This text entitled, 'Beckett: The Failure Sense', was commissioned for inclusion in a new collection of essays on the influence of Samuel Beckett on contemporary art. This publication entitled, 'Beckett in Company' comprises a collection of essays which explore and recontextualise the formal experiments Beckett made in the 1960s, 70s and 80s in prose, film, stage, radio and television drama, as contemporary, parallel revisions of modernism’s theoretical presuppositions congruent with genres such as Minimalism, Performance Art, and Conceptual Art. This collection balances critical and art historical essays with interviews and original works by artists who have been influenced by Beckett’s revisions of modernism and thus constitutes a timely contribution to, and intervention in, the ongoing historicisation of Beckett’s work within the fields of Beckett studies and Modernist studies. Additionally, this publication uses readings of Beckett as a contemporary of artists such as, Robert Smithson, Sol LeWitt, Joseph Kosuth and Robert Ryman. In doing so, it offers an examination of literature and art against the irrevocably fractured historical narratives of the 21st century. In addition it also considers the place of the artist and their work amid the indissolubly mediated, oftentimes virtual, textures of 21st century life. The second volume of this publication, in which this text, 'The Failure Sense' is included, is entitled, 'Samuel Beckett and Contemporary Art'. This volume contains essays about Beckett and contemporary art, or Beckett’s work as contemporary art and incorporates the writings of practicing artists who see their work as being in dialogue with Beckett’s, including texts by Vito Acconci, Tony Oursler, Arnold Dreyblatt and Duncan Campbell. In this way this publication stands out from the current work of historicisation coming out of the archival turn in Beckett studies and will allow for a reading of the contemporary art world in the light of modernism’s foundational aesthetic problems, i.e., where Beckett’s work was coming from in its connection to the aesthetic debates at the origin of his work. Within this context, McIntyre's text, 'The Failure Sense', adopts a reflective approach to explore the relationship between visual artists’ writing and the reflective process. It investigates how the practice of reflective writing, when focused within one’s artistic process and conceptual approach, can develop creative and narrative forms, which can interact with and enrich the artwork indirectly to reposition the experience of the viewer. In the context of this publication, McIntyre's approach to reflective writing functions within a set of specifically defined parameters, namely the production and readings of her photography as seen in relationship with Beckett's theatrical works and in particular his use of stage directions. This publication is edited by Dr. Robert Reginio, David Houston Jones, Katherine Weiss for Ibidem Press and distributed by Columbia University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSamuel Beckett and Contemporary Art (Samuel Beckett in Company)
EditorsRobert Reginio, David Houston Jones, Katherine Weiss
Place of PublicationUSA
Publisheribidem Press
Chapter3 Artists on Beckett
ISBN (Print)978-3-8382-1079-7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Nov 2017


  • Beckett
  • theatre
  • didascaliae
  • reflective writing
  • fine art photography
  • contemporary art.


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