LAMENTATION: IN THE STUART CROFT ARCHIVE by Adam Roberts
105mm x 170mm, 64 pages, black and white printing, perfect bound, 2020
I imagine the community whose tender hands 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.
Lamentation is a reverie on loss and despair in face of the possibility of extinction. It begins in the archive, examining the legacy of artist film-maker Stuart Croft whose life and work was cut short unexpectedly. Reflections on the death of Chantal Akerman follow. 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 well necessitates forgetting, 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 is akin to the loss of knowledge. Lamentation is a contemplation of finality and death, of annihilation, and of the coming confinement of all that we are into the fossil record.
‘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.’
–> Gareth Evans
‘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.’
–> Marion Schmid
Adam Roberts was born in Bogota, Colombia. He is a film-maker, writer, and curator. He has collaborated with, among others, choreographer Jonathan Burrows, dancer Sylvie Guillem, film-maker Jack Hazan, and composers Matteo Fargion and Kevin Volans. His work has shown at Whitechapel Gallery, Hayward Gallery, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Maxi Gallery, Rome, and BFI Southbank. He is the founder, with Joanna Hogg, of A Nos Amours which curated between 2013 and 2015 a retrospective of the films of Chantal Akerman and an exhibition of her installation works. He is co-author of Chantal Akerman Retrospective Handbook (London: A Nos Amours, 2019).