Life is Not Enough

Vladimir: Nothing you can do about it.

Estragon: No use struggling.

Vladimir: One is what one is.

Estragon: No use wriggling.

Vladimir: The essential doesn’t change.

Estragon: Nothing to be done.

 Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett

LastLandscape Joe Duggan

“I wanted to tell a story, a great story, and I wanted to do it with large pictures because I thought that would look spectacular.” Joe Duggan

Life is Not Enough is a picture book specially conceived and designed by Irish artist, Joe Duggan.  Printed in a limited edition of 500, each copy is numbered and signed by the artist.

Recalling the Grimm Brothers’ in its darkly suggestive telling, and taking its narrative frame from the Stations of the Cross: Life is not Enough draws upon the great canons of Western storytelling to portray the journey of a wandering soul searching for meaning in his life, whilst he grapples with love, marriage and misadventure.

Originally conceived during an artist residency in Newfoundland, Canada, the story is told in prose which is as spare and unforgiving as the landscape which inspired it. In capturing both the brutality and the romanticism of a place at the end of the world, Duggan succeeds in telling a story which is universal and particular: the story of a man, and the story of man as artist. Its stripped-back storytelling is a return to basic archetypes in which we may or not find that the narrative strikes a personal chord.

“I wanted to show the everyday struggle and demystify the artist’s life by presenting the thinking, not just the making.”

Accompanied by a series of beautiful photographs, Life is not Enough presents a humorously bleak, yet visually poetic, vision of human existence.  Each photograph has its own theatrical set and depicts a scene enacted by Duggan and his friends: offering a surreal mini-epic which explores life’s predictability as well its will to randomness.

With every element controlled and directed by the artist himself, the book suggests an existence governed by an unconscious overlord; a force which neither judges nor designs, but just is.

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.” Murphy, Samuel Beckett.

At its core Life is not Enough explores fundamental ideas about god, religion and society. Through a series of dramatic ploys it also works deeper: touching upon complex ideas about art, aesthetics, psychology, reality and the essential absurdity of life. The book represents more than just the act of story-telling, it is also a performance: a theatrical spectacle which takes its cue from Beckett’s absurd.

Since its inception in Newfoundland, Duggan has spent almost four years completing the work. Known for his large scale photographs and installations this is Duggan’s first published book.

Beautifully bound in blue cloth as a hardback, Life is not Enough is designed by Joe Duggan in collaboration with Lisa Novac. Intended to play with the conventions of the book itself, its oversized, even awkward, format teases our expectations.

To purchase the book please visit Joe Duggan’s website:

This text is part of a commission from the artist, please get in touch if you’re interested in commissioning any writing from me.

1 comment
  1. Galaxy said:

    I rarely drop remarks, however i did some searching and wound
    up here Life is Not Enough | The Pilgrimages. And I do have a few questions for you if you tend not to mind.
    Could it be simply me or does it look like some of the responses come across
    like written by brain dead folks? 😛 And,
    if you are writing at other online sites, I would like to keep up with everything
    fresh you have to post. Would you make a list of all of all your shared sites
    like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

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