Exploring social histories through film, photography, print, text and performances, Helen Cammock creates multiple and layered narratives that are not linear, allowing the cyclical nature of history to be revealed. Through these devices Cammock explores the motivation for women’s participation in the civil rights movement, the invisibility of women in the historical narrative of the time, and how it impacted family life and the notion of loss. The Long Note is an attempt to articulate the variety of political positions taken by women during the movement; there was no one unifying position or one identity but a multitude of voices that permeated a turbulent time in Derry.
The Long Note is a partial move towards redressing the lack of the female voice within the historical narrative, and to recognise the need to highlight the centrality of women in what was a pivotal moment in Derry and Ireland’s history.
Also included in the exhibition is Shouting in Whispers (2017), a group of large screen-prints made up of hand-mixed solid colour block with text, offering a contemplative and powerful interplay with the film and reading resources provided. Each print quotes conversations with friends, as well as questions or statements from activists and philosophers both contemporary and historical. The reading room offers a space to explore material selected by the artist to expand and complement the conversations and topics raised in The Long Note and related programming.
Cammock’s work has an ability to contextualise events within a universal struggle, addressing geopolitics in all its complexities, giving a voice to the invisible, laying bare the importance of the collective experience and highlighting women’s perspectives within these events.
The selection of this work for the Project Spaces has a timely context within the current political and social climate. The complexities of The Long Note resonate with a contemporary sense of an unknown future; history can help question what is currently overshadowed by the political, and offer greater insight to the potential social implications. There is no absolute answer but there is a need to be inclusive, to listen and to be heard. The Long Note has a porous dialogue with other museum programming such as IMMA Collection: Les Levine, Resurrection and the upcoming Doris Salcedo exhibition Acts of Mourning, opening on 26 April.