HELEN CAMMOCK <<Che si può fare>> @ WHITECHAPEL

1/09/19 ZM

Emoji summary: 😪 🕳 🔲

Does September count as Autumn? I feel like it is too on the border to be either Summer or Autumn. This is always a weird time of year: all the summer shows are ending, my tan is fading, it’s not time for October & the explosion of autumn art chaos with frieze week and the charge ahead into winter shows. A soft in-between, is that what liminal means?>>>

Helen Cammock’s show @ Whitechapel is called <<Che si può fare>>, the name of an Italian aria that means: what can be done. I remember reading the wall text outside the show like; ‘ok, cool’, the parallel feeling and placement of jazz, blues, opera. A half-academic, half-felt-and-intuited exploration of Lament™️. Lament; like loss, mourning, passionate grief. There is a difference between Sorrow and Sadness. One is beautiful, Romantic; Lament is similar. It’s a gorgeous kind of stillness that I’d prefer over just wasting away in a banal way. It is separate and cordoned off; there is a way to access Lament, there is a way to feel and explore it. It is specific (I think). 

The main chunk of the show was a 3-channel film thrust diagonally across the room on panels. The chairs to view it were double-depth so you could lean back a bit, ease in & soak. I never know at what point in a review I should announce that I just wasn’t feeling it. It always feels like an interruption, part of me wants to describe the room without mentioning that I never tumbled head over heels into a feeling, but then another part of me recognises that it’d be palpable anyway. I wasn’t feeling this film, and I am so so sorry for it. I think i actually hate saying I didn't like a show. I don't mind hating it, but disliking it feels like too soft an in between, a weird stodgy waste where my justifications feel flimsy or too subjective to be useful to anyone (I know, I know). I just lament that this didn’t hit me square in the chest. 

The film follows Helen Cammock around Italy, there is no announcement of location, only a rolling tumbling kind of narrative as one location bleeds into another and she stops off in the houses and convents of various women. A nun running a retreat for women who’ve experienced trauma, an old woman who was an anti-fascist partisan from the war, a photographer lit in pink light, her blonde fringe hits her eyebrows harsh and uncompromising. It all kind of blurs into one, they roll over onto each other; musical interlude between, sparse shots of a silver streamer hanging from a unit, ice melting in the sink, yellow flowers bobbing around in the breeze. I wanted more, I wanted a guiding hand. I don’t often feel like a work is ungenerous. I think I am too keen to internalise the message that it is a lack on my behalf; that I am not trying hard enough, or that an element of unknowability is ok (which it is!) and it’s presumptuous of me to feel entitled to access all four corners of meaning in a work. I think I felt this internalised message crumble a bit in the face of Helen’s film. I wanted it all to click into place so badly, I wanted to like this work. The segments bleeding and tumbling into each other passed me by, the women were interchangeable, they rambled in front of me without primer or context, and I found myself lost in the act of trying to make them make sense next to each other. All I felt was circumstantial. All I felt was open-ended, like an interrupted sentence at a party. I got no closure from the momentum of the wall text and the academic cladding. I wanted to feel, but the film was bottomless in its structure and I found myself slipping through. Weird, liminal in its soft bleed; this film was September. I wonder if it would’ve landed harder with a more generous hand guiding me through. I hope it was just me, that I was in the wrong mood or the wrong shape. I hope this is a singular experience. 

I will say, I missed the performance. I got tickets, never checked my email and never added it to my iCal. I said I’d only review this show after I’d seen the performance, and when I realised I’d missed it, I felt like a Real Dickhead™️. I wonder if this was the missing generosity I needed, if this would’ve made me Feel, make the slipping sliding film feel less like a deep pit and more like a backdrop to a palpable Feeling. I am convinced it would’ve, because almost all performance surely is guaranteed to make you feel strongly (even if it’s revulsion or boredom). 

If Lament is a glamorous kind of wastage, a beautiful way to waste time as it passes, to plunge yourself into performing the labour of sorrow with no set purpose or end other than to exorcise or excavate the depths of yourself; then how much can you be expected to understand it, when all you’re shown is people talking about the wastage and the parts around it, rather than the meaty beauty of its actual substance. I think Lana del Rey does this better, renders this melancholy waste more palpably, more accessibly, more generously. I am sad for saying this all, because it too feels like a waste. Sleight of hand, type & signifier; there were small head-nods towards the turbulence, waste and stillness of lament and tragedy. But the film without the performance was not felt enough, too still to convey the turbulence also, ungenerous in the parts that I was shown. I want to try again. I want the show to come on again, run another time, but different. I’m a dickhead for missing the event that might have sliced this lack in half. I wasn’t given enough: time, feeling, hand to hold. 

Helen Cammock's <<Che si può fare>> is on @ Whitechapel until 1st September (which is today, as of day of publishing). HURRy, if ur reading this & wana see it.

b͓̽e͓̽s͓̽t͓̽ ͓̽v͓̽i͓̽e͓̽w͓̽e͓̽d͓̽ ͓̽i͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽l͓̽a͓̽n͓̽d͓̽s͓̽c͓̽a͓̽p͓̽e͓̽
͓̽o͓̽r͓̽ ͓̽o͓̽n͓̽ ͓̽a͓̽ ͓̽d͓̽e͓̽s͓̽k͓̽t͓̽o͓̽p͓̽

{ 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔬𝔫𝔩𝔶 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔰𝔬𝔫 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔚𝔥𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔓𝔲𝔟𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔩𝔩 𝔢𝔵𝔦𝔰𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔟𝔢𝔠𝔞𝔲𝔰𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔠𝔥𝔬𝔬𝔰𝔢 𝔱𝔬 𝔰𝔲𝔭𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱 𝔲𝔰 𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔪𝔬𝔫𝔱𝔥 𝔳𝔦𝔞 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫. 𝔚𝔢 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔰 𝔡𝔬 𝔱𝔞𝔩𝔨𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔧𝔬𝔟𝔰 𝔟𝔲𝔱 𝔓𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔢𝔬𝔫 𝔦𝔰 𝔥𝔬𝔴 𝔴𝔢 𝔤𝔢𝔱 𝔭𝔞𝔦𝔡 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔠𝔱𝔲𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 - 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔳𝔦𝔢𝔴𝔰 𝔫 𝔞𝔯𝔱 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔬 𝔬𝔫. 𝔄𝔫𝔡 𝔦𝔱'𝔰 𝔰𝔬 𝔦𝔪𝔭𝔬𝔯𝔱𝔞𝔫𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔲𝔰 2 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔴𝔢 𝔠𝔞𝔫 𝔰𝔱𝔞𝔶 𝔦𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔭𝔢𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔠𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔦𝔠𝔰 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔱𝔦𝔢𝔰 𝔱𝔬 𝔟𝔦𝔤 𝔣𝔲𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔰 𝔬𝔯 𝔦𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔦𝔱𝔲𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫𝔰, 𝔭𝔲𝔟𝔩𝔦𝔠 𝔬𝔯 𝔭𝔯𝔦𝔳𝔞𝔱𝔢. 𝔗𝔥𝔞𝔫𝔨 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔬𝔩𝔡 𝔱𝔦𝔪𝔢𝔶 𝔭𝔞𝔱𝔯𝔬𝔫𝔰 - 𝔴𝔢'𝔩𝔩 𝔡𝔬 𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔰𝔱 𝔱𝔬 𝔭𝔯𝔬𝔡𝔲𝔠𝔢 𝔮𝔲𝔞𝔩𝔦𝔱𝔶 𝔬𝔲𝔱𝔭𝔲𝔱; 𝔴𝔯𝔦𝔱𝔢 𝔰𝔱𝔲𝔣𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔦𝔰 𝔱𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔤𝔥𝔱𝔣𝔲𝔩 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔰𝔦𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔯𝔢. }

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