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A man, bruised and bloody, falls in slow-motion from the top of the Nishi Staircase, hitting every step on the way down...


Ever tried. Ever failed. takes its name from a line from Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Taken out of context, the quote has been appropriated by the culture of self-help and individual aspiration as a mantra for stoical stick-to-it-ness, unexpectedly memed into mass culture. Although anyone who has had more intimate contact with Beckett’s work might have detected that Sam wasn’t really the aspirational type...

Ever tried. Ever failed. seeks to honour the beauty of failure: natural, inevitable, and permanent. This is not Atlas shrugging, but the 99% whose world is thrown out of orbit when we prize a society based on getting-ahead, material gain, and a false meritocracy that masks endemic inequality.

This is a work of art with compassion for the fallen and the falling. The cycle of futile endeavour challenges the neoliberal narrative of the heroism of individual struggle, and the masculine trope of self-sacrifice and self-harm in the relentless push against insurmountable odds.

Presented as part of ART, NOT APART 2019.



Christopher Samuel Carroll


Martin Ollman


Nishi Building,

ART, NOT APART, Canberra

16 March 2019

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