Failure- A Review

by scholastress

Failure (2010) is Lisa Le Feuvre’s addition to the Whitechaple Gallery’s Documents of Contemporary Art series. A sleekly designed collection of short essays, interviews, and quotations, it like the other books in the set attempt to touch on an important current in the art in recent decades, while setting art out as an increasingly pluralistic and wide-reaching sphere of influence for society at large.Having had the opportunity to peak at drafts of Amelia Jones’ forthcoming Sexuality, however, I can attest that not all the books in this series are of the same quality.

Le Feuvre’s collection is underwhelming, and focused predominantly on process and pedagogy. The field of new media and mediality in the general are omitted from this survey, leaving only Le Feuvre’s banal assertion that “it is worth considering that the deepest failures are in fact no failures at all,” (19). As with Halberstam’s work on the subject, the material conditions of failure and its consequences are underplayed in an effort to salvage its heroic potential to inspire new possibilities and artistic means. Such efforts are trite to the ears of those who are failing and risk re-enforcing success as the ultimate goal of any endeavor, particularly if we are, as Le Feuvre suggests in her introductory essay, to “strive to fail,” (12). Cynically, I would dismiss this book as useless to any media-focused scholar, save for the rare student with a fascination in Baldessari.