They Call It Idlewild

Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 18 mins
|35 Seconds
Sound: Stereo
Ratio: 16:9
Available Format/s: HD Digital file
Original Format: HD Video


Inspired by the forgotten histories, photographs and artworks uncovered in Wysing Arts Centre’s archive, Cammock’s new film acts as a reflection on the politics of idleness and what it means creatively, emotionally and culturally to be idle at a time when the questions are being asked more widely about the physical and emotional cost of hyper-productivity required by Neoliberalism.

Presented as a large-scale installation in Wysing’s main gallery, They Call It Idlewild begins with an evocative account of the artist’s explorations in Wysing’s archive; intuitively opening boxes and searching through photographs and other documents. Reflecting on these findings, Cammock’s poetic voiceover begins to see Wysing in new terms, as a place where artists are free to engage with idleness, and to take things at their own speed. She sees this as the foundation of a thirty-year history of creativity at the arts centre; a constant in a time of sweeping societal and political change.

Cammock explores the processes of idleness through visual and poetic intertextuality drawing on writers such as Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver, James Joyce and Jonathan Crary, to consider what it means to be idle. Part way through the film, Cammock begins to sing Johnny Mercer’s depression-era song “Lazy Bones”, drawing an explicit link between several historical periods, a reminder of the pervasiveness of racial stereotypes around laziness and the hypocrisies of the slave, business and land-owning classes. They Call it Idlewild asks; who gets to be lazy.

By John Bloomfield.

More works by Helen Cammock

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