Lamentation. In the Stuart Croft Archive
A book published by Ma Bibliothèque, the result of research in an archive, looking at the papers of the artist film-maker Stuart Croft.
This book is a reverie on what remains, and what is lost, after the death of an artist, reflecting to begin with on the traces of Croft's life as embodied by his handwriting. Another death, that of the film-maker, Chantal Akerman, whose films and artwork Adam had curated with Joanna Hogg between 2013 and 2015 (see ) is also evoked.
Thoughts gather around the idea of distance, and the poetic image of the distant beloved. Archival records are relics and the work of the researcher is akin to that of the archaeologist. Yet to remember at all well necessitates forgetting and erasure, since not everything can be held in mind, and narratives that explain the past are necessarily an artifice of the present. Rock strata and fossils are archives of sorts, and extinction akin to the loss of knowledge.
I imagine the community whose tender hands have sorted and assembled these materials, and then gently enclosed them in folders and safe boxes. My engagement is now too a part of that performance of love, a part of ageless rituals of love and respect, in this secular space which nevertheless reveals in its silence a temple-like aspect. I am become a priest of love.
(Lamenation. In the Stuart Croft Archive, p17)
In an age of erasures, of losses in every sphere of being, how is one to grieve, and speak that grief to others? This remarkable book, woven from threads ancient, prescient, and all too movingly present, understands what is at stake. Charged with the lyric insights of the psalms, Lamentation is a call fully to live. In these times, it could not be more necessary.
In this beautifully written essay, Adam Roberts asks what remains beyond a person’s death and how we can make present what has been lost. Interweaving memories of Stuart Croft and Chantal Akerman, two artists who died too young, he offers a thought-provoking meditation on grief, mourning, the archive, and our collective responsibility in addressing our past and caring for our future. He writes profoundly and personally about loss, remembrance, and the fragility of human existence.
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British Library shelfmark:
General Reference Collection YKL.2021.a.11071
170 mm x 105 mm
60 mm French flaps (cover)