(Waiting for -) Texts for Nothing’ Samuel Beckett, in play, Joseph Kosuth
The manipulation of lighting sets the stage for drama. Entering the gallery’s largest space to view Texts (Waiting for—) for Nothing; Samuel Beckett, in play our immersion in darkness demands one’s eyes’ adjustment to decode the frieze of white neon text that wraps around the room where wall and ceiling meet.
The positive ‘white cube’ gallery is reversed into a negative ‘black’ cube. Kosuth culls excerpts from two texts from Beckett, Waiting for Godot and Texts for Nothing – presenting them in white neon that has been ‘canceled’ by dipping each letter and punctuation mark in black paint which reduces legibility depending on your position in the seemingly cavernous space. Kosuth has lured us into a ‘Plato’s Cave’ of manufactured night where the words of the ‘dead end kid’ of the stage are beheld in pinpoint celestial grandeur. On the wall to the right a box holds a reproduction of Casper David Friedrich’s Two Men Contemplating the Moon (1819), which inspired Beckett to write Godot. The artist exerts a wry form of control over this romantic favorite by both its colorless reduction in scale and by its display in a structure equally conducive to the reading of menus on the sidewalk. Kosuth has engineered an unexpectedly ecclesiastic space for the gallery; his discrete treatment of the neon letters risks visual obscurity, blackened neon in a dark room, to produce a Johnsian environment between language and the conditions of its presentation. Waiting around for Godot results in ‘nothing’ but more language.