Santiago Calatrava The Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin 2009
Santiago Calatrava
The Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin, 2009

Beckett and Company – Part 1

Beckett and Company – Part 2

Tate Modern, the London Consortium, Birkbeck and Goldsmiths, University of London, in association with LCACE, are hosting an interdisciplinary conference to celebrate the importance of Samuel Beckett’s work for the arts in the twenty-first century.

One hundred years after Samuel Beckett was born, his work continues to inspire artists of all kinds. Uniquely for a writer, Beckett is as significant today for those working outside the forms of which he was such an extraordinary innovator and master – the play for theatre, radio, television or film, the novel, the prose fragment – as he is for writers, the possibilities of whose practice Beckett vitally transformed. Beckett was passionate about art and music, and their importance to him is reflected throughout his critical and creative writing. His plays were described by one director as ‘choreography’, and Beckett himself described the movement of his characters on stage as ‘balletic’. Beckett’s work has provided a lasting and provocative influence on contemporary art. International artists like Jasper Johns, Bruce Nauman, Steve McQueen, and Doris Salcedo have have indicated their indebtedness to Beckett’s work. Composers like Philip Glass, Morton Feldman, Mark-Anthony Turnage, filmmakers like Atom Egoyan and dancers like Maguy Marin have all worked with Beckett’s writing to produce pieces of extraordinary power.

Beckett and Company, an interdisciplinary conference to mark the centenary of Beckett’s birth, will situate Beckett in the company not only of writers and philosophers, where he is most often to be found, but also of visual artists, composers, musicians, dancers, choreographers, architects, and other artists. It will provide an opportunity to explore, question, celebrate and debate Beckett’s continuing relevance for the arts in the twenty-first century.

We begin on Friday 6 October, with an event in the Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern, 14.00–18.00. The artists Dorothy Cross, Atom Egoyan, Michael Craig-Martin, and Shahram Entekhabi will discuss their relationship with Samuel Beckett in a series of discussions chaired by Dr Derval Tubridy of Goldsmiths, University of London. Tickets cost £8 (£6 concessions), and can be booked by calling 020 7887 8888 or online.

On Saturday 7 October and Sunday 8 October we migrate to the award-winning Ben Pimlott building at Goldsmiths, University of London, where academic papers will be interspersed with award-winning film screenings, musical performances, and artistic interventions by Balázs Kicsiny, Santiago Borja, c.cred, Michael Rainin, Jenny Triggs, Manuel Sosa, and others. Speakers include Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes (author of Joyce in Art), Séamus Kealy (curator of 18: Beckett at the Blackwood Gallery, Toronto), Catherine Laws (Dartington College of Arts) and Professor Steven Connor (Academic Director of the London Consortium). Among the contemporary contexts to be considered are minimalism, theories of theatre and the body, and those provided by such artists as Jasper Johns, Bruce Nauman, Manuel Ocampo, Damien Hirst, Orlan, Stelarc, Francis Alÿs, Ugo Rondinone, John Barbour, Morton Feldman, and Woody Allen.

Tickets are available for the three-day event (including tea/coffee, lunch on Saturday, and a reception on Saturday evening): the price is £45 (£35 for studentsconcessions). If you prefer, you may also buy tickets for Saturday and Sunday only, at £37 (£29 for students/concessions).

Beckett and Company


Friday 6 October 2006 Starr Auditorium, Tate Modern

13.00–14.00 Registration
14.00–18.00 Dorothy Cross, Atom Egoyan, Michael Craig-Martin, and Shahram Entekhabi in conversation with Derval Tubridy 

Saturday 7 October 2006 Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths, University of London 

09.00–09.30 Tea and coffee
09.30–09.45 Welcome and Introduction, Dr Laura Salisbury
09.45–10.45 Panel: Beckett and Contemporary Arts

  • Dr Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes (University of Ulster), ‘Reciprocity: Beckett Interpreted in the Context of Contemporary Art’
  • Dr David Cunningham (University of Westminster), ‘Beckett as Literalist: Minimalism Across the Arts’

10.45–11.00 Tea and coffee
11.00–12.30 Parallel Panel: Bodies and Minds 1

  • Dr Kathy Smith (London Metropolitan University), ‘Abject Bodies: Beckett, Orlan, Stelarc and the Politics of Contemporary Performance’
  • Dr Russell Smith (The Australian National University, Canberra), ‘Walking… Stumbling… Falling… Lying Down: Beckettian Operations in the Work of Ugo Rondinone and John Barbour’
  • Dr Nikolai Duffy (Goldsmiths, University of London), ‘The Anonymous Company of Samuel Beckett’

Parallel Panel: Bodies and Minds 2

  • Ondrea E. Ackerman (Columbia University, New York), ‘Beckett’s “Relentless Cycle of Configurations”: Nothingness and the Iterative Moment’
  • Jorge Gutierrez Burgueño (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid),’Grammatical Bodies: A Reading of Physicality in the Beckettian Stage and Contemporary Plastic Aesthetics’
  • Dr Daniel Watt (Loughborough University), ‘ “We must have thought a little”: Beckett’s Legacy of Fragments’

12.30–13.00 Christopher Poulson, There’s a bucket in my hole (performance)
13.00–14.00 Lunch
14.00–15.00 Séamus Kealy, ‘Samuel Beckett and Contemporary Arts: Organising 18:Beckett’
15.00-15.30 c.cred, Beckett Borderwords
15.30–16.00 Tea and coffee – (including Waiting for Woody Allen, (dir. Michael Rainin, 2004) (16’ film)
16.00–17.00 Panel: Music and Sound

  • Dr Catherine Laws (Dartington College of Arts), ‘Beckett – Feldman – Johns’
  • Steven Barfield (University of Westminster), ‘ “All the dead voices”: Samuel Beckett and Bruce Nauman’s Raw Materials

17.30–18.30 Reception
18.30–19.30 Manuel Sosa (The Julliard School, New York), in-Sounds (for clarinet, reader, and tape)
Rhian Samuel, Flowing Sand (for baritone and piano)

Sunday 8 October 2006 Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths, University of London 

09.30–09.45 Tea and coffee
09.45–10.45 Balázs Kicsiny and Dr Garin Dowd (Thames Valley University), ‘Time Unhinged: Experiments in Navigation and Chronometry in Samuel Beckett and Balázs Kicsiny’
10.45–11.00 Tea and coffee
11.00–12.30 Parallel Panel: Breath, Death, Film, and Failure 1

  • Takeshi Kawashima (Waseda University, Toyko), ‘What Does a Ghost Mean? Beckett and the Spectral Imagination’
  • Lee Scrivner (London Consortium), ‘Excavating Zeno’s Heap: Breathing, Burial, and Beckett’
  • Cristina Cano Vara (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid), ‘Concomitant Relationship’: the Spanish director Javier Aguirre adapts Samuel Beckett’s Company for a film version entitled Voz (Voice)’

Parallel Panel: Breath, Death, Film, and Failure 2

  • Richard Cope (South Bank University), ‘Is the failure to express its expression?: Manuel Ocampo and Samuel Beckett’s Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit
  • Dr Matt Paproth (National University of Ireland at Galway), ‘The Death of the Author: The Problem with Beckett on Film’
  • Sozita Goudouna (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘Theatricality and the Look of Non-Art in Beckett’s Breath’

12.30–13.00 Siobhan Tattan, Brilliant Failures (lecture/performance)
13.00–14.00 Lunch
14.00–14.30 The Unnamable (dir. Jenny Triggs) (film plus discussion)
14.30–15.30 Santiago Borja, Said and Done (film, paper, and questions)
15.30–16.00 Tea and coffee
16.00–17.00 Steven Connor and Co. (London Consortium and Birkbeck, University of London)
17.00 End of conference