Archive for the ‘Loss’ Tag

“I know I have lost”….

Loss has been a bit of a theme in this blog off and on. The previous post was called ‘Losing Banksy’ (about the destruction of a Banksy stencil in Melbourne’s CBD), and back in October I wrote about how I felt upon discovering that one of my favourite C215 stencils had been buffed (‘Losing the image’).

And now, more loss…. But here’s why: last week I had been scrolling through photos that I’ve taken on various trips recently, and I came across this image:


The location is a side-street near the Tate Modern; I had been doing the ‘walking tour’ that the Tate organised as part of its Street Art exhibition. A number of works had been created and installed in locations close to the museum, and then maps indicating these locations were given to Tate visitors. I had been dutifully walking around the relevant streets, looking at the various images, and feeling that there was something a little sterile, a little forced, about the whole exercise, when I came across these words, meticulously painted onto a wall, not part of the walking tour, placed there by some unknown writer who knows how long ago.

In some respects, its meaning is so plain. ‘I know I have lost’: what ambiguity could possibly be said to exist in those words? And yet, it’s worth hesitating over… Lost what, exactly? The way? Self-respect? A ten-pound note? Love?

And why not just state “I have lost’? It’s the conjoining of ‘I know’ with ‘I have lost’ that makes it so powerful –  it’s not simply that something has been lost. Loss is registered through our knowledge of the fact of loss.

Over the weekend, I had been going to write about how simple and how satisfying I think this is; however, the destruction of the Banksy stencil, and the media reaction to it, provided a more pressing issue. But then Monday brought news of another loss: my partner learned that his father had died suddenly. It’s hard to do justice to the magnitude of that kind of pain, but in some strange way the ambiguity of those simple words on a wall in Southwark have sedimented the grief and sadness experienced over the last few days. ‘I know I have lost’.