Film & Media Screenings

Three Films by Helen Cammock

In conjunction with her online talk, three short films by the artist Helen Cammock will be screened on the Yale Center for British Art's website from Monday, May 23, through Monday, June 6, 2022.

Cammock will be in conversation with Hazel Carby, Charles C. & Dorathea S. Dilley Professor Emeritus of African American Studies, Yale University, on Friday, May 27, at noon ET.

They Call It Idlewild

They Call It Idlewild (2020; 18 minutes, 57 seconds) reflects on the politics of idleness. What does it mean—creatively, emotionally, and culturally—to be idle? What are the physical and emotional costs of the hyperproductivity that neoliberalism demands? Cammock explores the processes of idleness through visual and poetic intertextuality, drawing on the work of writers such as Jonathan Crary, James Joyce, Audre Lorde, and Mary Oliver. Partway through the film, Cammock sings Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael’s Depression-era song "Lazybones," linking several historical periods via the pervasiveness of racial stereotypes around laziness, as well as the toxic hypocrisies of the slave-, business-, and land-owning classes who live off the impoverishment of others. They Call It Idlewild asks: Who gets to be lazy?

There's a Hole in the Sky Part I

There’s a Hole in the Sky Part I (2016; 19 minutes, 6 seconds) questions human worth and cultural value. In the film, captured in Barbados, Cammock interacts with workers from one of the last sugar factories, as well as from a tourist sugar grind and rum plantation. In prose and song, the dialogue between the artist and the workers explores the disconnect between what is seen and what is heard.

There's a Hole in the Sky Part II: Listening to James Baldwin

There’s a Hole in the Sky Part II: Listening to James Baldwin (2016; 11 minutes) imagines a conversation with writer James Baldwin. It considers migrations, forced or voluntary, by Black American writers and dancers who moved to Europe in search of work and wider recognition. The piece layers multiple and varied experiences, exploring the dynamics of appropriation and power. The film builds on Cammock’s interest in failing colonial industries, set against a backdrop of futuristic new-build flats and state-of-the-art transportation links in the London Docklands.

Film Credits

Helen Cammock, They Call It Idlewild (2020; 18 minutes, 57 seconds)

Helen Cammock, There's a Hole in the Sky Part I (2016; 19 minutes 6 seconds)

Helen Cammock, There's a Hole in the Sky Part II: Listening to James Baldwin (2016, 11 minutes)

Related events

Photo by Sebastiano Luciano

at home: Artists in Conversation | Helen Cammock

Friday, May 27, 2022, 12–1 pm