I Will Keep My Soul

Helen Cammock

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

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Cloth, 7.75 × 10.75 in.
188 pages, full color
A copublication with the California African American Museum and the Rivers Institute, April 21, 2023

PDF Press Release

Convening polyphonous voices from past and present, I Will Keep My Soul is an orchestral layering of photography, historical documents, poetry and interviews, all rooted in the social history, geography and community of New Orleans.

In this prismatic artist’s book, UK-based artist Helen Cammock traverses the city, rendering her observations and encounters into reverberant texts and percipient photographic images that tender the city’s invisible histories. She weaves these contemporary sequences with archival materials from the Amistad Research Center 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.

Among the newspaper clippings, instructions for activists, a nineteenth-century publication on Creole slave songs that speak the long struggle for Civil Rights, 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.

The textual contributions by Jordan Amirkhani, Andrea Andersson and Kristina Kay Robinson are not positioned as traditional art criticism, but instead further deepen the reader’s knowledge, experience and understanding of the opposing forces—geographical, economic, historical, cultural—that have formed the city New Orleans.

Summoning, holding and arranging these voices with extraordinary deftness and acuity, I Will Keep My Soul coalesces into a rhizomatic and particularly American story of art and activism, of culture and capital, of being and belonging.

look and read

Find a portfolio of Cammock’s film stills selected from the book and read Jordan Amirkhani’s contribution “All Water Has a Perfect Memory” at The Paris Review Daily.

celebrate the book with us

NEW YORK CITY — Friday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at CARA (Center for Art, Research and Alliances). The evening includes a reading by Helen Cammock and a conversation between Cammock and writer and art historian Re’al Christian. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Free. 225 W. 13th Street, NYC 10011.

LONDON — Tuesday, April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Kate MacGarry Gallery. A reading by Cammock will be followed by a conversation with Andrea Andersson, curator of I Will Keep My Soul and director of the Rivers Institute. The gallery will also exhibit a selection of Cammock’s text-based works from the project. The event runs 6 – 8 p.m. Free. 27 Old Nichol Street, London, E2 7HR.

about the artist

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).



This artist’s book is published on the occasion of an eponymous and multifarious exhibition which premieres in Los Angeles at Art + Practice, in partnership with the California African American Museum, February 11–August 5, 2023.

In New Orleans, from October–December 2023, the exhibition will figure across multiple sites and include Cammock’s film installation, outdoor text-based work, a roving music series and her selection of working materials by New Orleans artists who shaped her experience in the city.


see also


Rock of EyeTroy Montes-Michie

Essays by Andrea Andersson and Tina Campt, interview by Brent Hayes Edwards and afterword by Cameron Shaw


About to HappenCecilia Vicuña

Essays by Andrea Andersson, Lucy Lippard and Macarena Gómez-Barris and an interview by Julia Bryan-Wilson

✼ natalie’s upstate weather report:

September 23, 2022 — Relentlessly stormy with brief bouts of sunshine as the melancholy of fall sets in. We’re all about the dummies here (and proofs), preparing to send off HC’s I Will Keep My Soul to press. Meanwhile, our publisher LP (who will not be bullied) is continuing testimony on zoom at a court in Lithuania (wish her luck!). And like a rocket with a countdown, we’ve launched this website! Thank you, TG & JG of ES!


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