Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul
A gorgeous book object engaging New Orleans’ multilayered histories of race, art and politics, from the acclaimed Turner Prize winner
Convening polyphonous voices from past and present, I Will Keep My Soul is an orchestral layering of photography, historical documents, poetry and interviews, rooted in the history, geography and community of New Orleans. In this tactile artist's book, UK-based artist Helen Cammock (born 1970) traverses the city, rendering her observations and encounters into texts and images that reveal its invisible histories. These sequences are woven with correspondence and photographs from the Amistad Research Center that evince artist Elizabeth Catlett's struggle for agency and support during her 1976 commission to create a bronze monument to Louis Armstrong in Congo Square―a place laden with histories of both oppression and celebration. Cammock interlaces more archival materials―newspaper clippings, instructions for activists, a 19th-century book on Creole slave songs―to articulate the long struggle for civil rights. I Will Keep My Soul is a uniquely American story of art and activism, culture and capital, being and belonging.