Center for Art,
Research and Alliances
March 31, 2023

I Will Keep My Soul: Helen Cammock in Conversation with Re'al Christian

Publication Cover

Please join us on Friday, March 31 for the launch of Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul. Published by Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought, Siglio Press, and the California African American Museum-Los Angeles, the evening will include a reading and conversation between Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Cammock and writer, editor, and art historian Re'al Christian.

I Will Keep My Soul is an orchestral layering of photography, historical documents, poetry, and interview excerpts, rooted in the social history, geography, and community of New Orleans and in the archives of the Amistad Research Center. In this prismatic artist’s book, UK-based artist Helen Cammock traverses the city, rendering her observations and encounters into texts and images that tender the city’s invisible histories. She weaves these contemporary sequences with archival materials to sustain the city’s complex past. The book object itself—its flexibility, its tactility, its use of transparent paper to layer images and texts—invites the reader into a capacious experience in which multiple and sometimes competing truths can be seen and heard.

The most persistent historical voice in I Will Keep My Soul belongs to sculptor Elizabeth Catlett, whose observations punctuate each section of the book. Cammock also draws on correspondence and photographs that articulate Catlett’s participation in the Civil Rights movement as well as her struggle for agency, autonomy and support during her 1976 commission to create a bronze monument to New Orleans musician Louis Armstrong, sited at Congo Square, a place laden with histories of immense oppression as well as celebration.

Edited by Lisa Pearson and Andrea Andersson, with essays by Jordan Amirkhani and Andrea Andersson, a score by Roshanak Kheshti, a story by Kristina Kay Robinson, and an afterword by Cameron Shaw, with excerpts from an interview by Courtney J. Martin.

Due to limited seating, reservation is strongly encouraged. RSVP here.

Copies of  I Will Keep My Soul will be available for sale in the CARA Bookstore.

'I Will Keep My Soul' by Helen Cammock, Siglio/Rivers/CAAM, 2023.
'I Will Keep My Soul' by Helen Cammock, Siglio/Rivers/CAAM, 2023.


Helen Cammock uses film, photography, print, text, song and performance to examine mainstream historical and contemporary narratives about Blackness, womanhood, oppression and resistance, wealth and power, poverty and vulnerability. Her works often cut across time and geography, layering multiple voices as she investigates the cyclical nature of histories in her visual and aural assemblages. In 2017, Cammock received the Max Mara Art Prize for Women and in 2019 was the joint recipient of The Turner Prize. She has exhibited and performed worldwide including recent solo shows at the Whitechapel Gallery, The Photographer’s Gallery (London, UK), STUK Art Centre (Leuven, Belgium), Collezione Maramotti (Reggio Emilia, Italy), VOID (Derry, Northern Ireland), the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, Ireland), Kestner Gesellshaft (Hamburg, Germany) and group shows at Serpentine Galleries, Tate Britain (London, UK), and Hamburger Kunstalle (Germany). Other upcoming solo shows include Oakville Galleries (Toronto, Canada) and Amant (New York). I Will Keep My Soul is published on the occasion of an eponymous exhibition which premiered in Los Angeles at Art + Practice, in partnership with the California African American Museum, February 11–August 5, 2023. The exhibition will figure across multiple sites in New Orleans from October–December 2023.

Re'al Christian is a writer and editor based in Queens, NY. Her work explores issues related to identity, diasporas, ecology, media, and materiality. Her essays, interviews, and criticism have appeared in Art in America, Artforum, BOMB Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and ART PAPERS, where she is a Contributing Editor. She has written catalogue texts for Howardena Pindell, Zipora Fried, Performa, and the forthcoming Track Changes: A Handbook for Art Criticism (Paper Monument). Her curatorial projects include The Black Index (2020–22) and Life as Activity: David Lamelas (2021), which she worked on as a graduate curatorial fellow at the Hunter College Art Galleries. Her other curatorial projects include Steven Anthony Johnson II: Getting Blood from Stone at ISCP (2022), and The earth leaked red ochre (2022) at Miriam Gallery. Christian is the Assistant Director of Editorial Initiatives at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, a nonprofit research center based at The New School. In this role, she develops the VLC's expanding publishing initiative, which comprises anthologies, artist books, exhibition booklets, communications projects, and Post/doc, a newly launched digital series. She received her master's degree in Art History from Hunter College and her bachelor’s degree from New York University in Art History and Media, Culture, and Communication.

Book Launch and Reading
Friday, March 31, 2023
7pm—doors 6:30pm

Free and open to the public.
Reservations encouraged.
Kindly RSVP here.

We ask that visitors stay home if feeling sick, or have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. Testing before joining us at CARA if feeling symptomatic is strongly recommended. Masks will be available for free for anyone who needs one.

The closest wheelchair accessible subway is 14th St/8th Avenue station. The entry to CARA is ADA-compliant and our bookstore and galleries are barrier free throughout, with all gender, wheelchair accessible restrooms. CARA has wheelchairs available for guest use, please request in advance via Service animals are welcome.