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There and Not Here: Chronicles of Art and Loss


University College London









Each of these pieces came to life because of being arrested by an artwork, stopped in my tracks and rooted to the floor, and being impelled to write about it. They were moments of certainty but not suddenness: part of being overwhelmed is not knowing why, trying to find out why—for better or worse. Writing turned into chronicling these long moments. Long moments of loss as well, and trauma. Chronicles began to accumulate, finding a place that doesn’t immediately emerge: a meeting of something made, someone writing, someone listening. I was looking for ways to breathe within those distances. Maybe loss, and grief, can fashion a community without imposing it. Maybe.

There and Not Here: Chronicles of Art and Loss
 is a collection of poetic essays written in response to works of art. These range from film, novels and installations, and include Pedro Almodóvar, William Kentridge, and Barbara Hepworth, as well as William Shakespeare and Diego Velásquez. The book explores strength of feeling, especially grief, as a path to communication, to an understanding of what unites and divides, and ultimately offers its own path to a constellation of engagements with life.

There and Not Here is a series of careful, tender, brutal meditations on grief and a life spent thinking about art. It steadily invites the reader to attend to everything—from Shakespeare’s Pericles to Matisse’s cut-outs—and encourages us to wonder what to say in the face of loss and absence, how to think, how to be. It is about that most significant and elusive of things: how to be present with art, with the world, with the other.’
–> Jenn Ashworth

‘Set against the desecrations of the world by rampant capital, There and Not Here is a beautifully woven assemblage of transitions, connections, redemption, communities, and personhoods. It’s an embrace of grief, knowledge, and remembering—of the immense flatness of grief, as well as its generative shaping. Interior monologue? Public address? Or a fresh hybrid of both in this meditative but restive, intensely post-humanist revolution in art criticism.’
–> John Kinsella

Read the full review of There and Not Here by John Kinsella, “On Timothy Mathews’ There and Not Here: Chronicles of Art and Loss” available at the website Mutually Said: Poets Vegan Anarchist Pacifist.

Timothy Mathews is Emeritus Professor of French and Comparative Criticism, University College London. He is fascinated by what engaging with art can tell us about engaging with people. His most recent book is Alberto Giacometti: the Art of Relation (2014). His co-edited books include Tradition, Translation, Trauma, with Jan Parker (2011), Poetic Biopolitics, with Peg Rawes and Stephen Loo (2015), and The Modernist Bestiary, with Sarah Kay (2020).His most recent translation is of a novel by Guillaume Apollinaire, Seated Woman (2022)

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