from the corner of my eye was the first retrospective of video works of artist, filmmaker, and writer Crystal Z Campbell. Campbell’s multidisciplinary artistic practice traces how the relationality between ideas and forms emerge through embodied creative research. Historical events interlace with intimate experiences unearthing fictional narratives, silenced memories, and shared histories. Rupturing public experiences of historical memory through lived experiences of selfhood, Campbell imagines a new understanding of social relations, and questions the institutional forensics of witnessing. Their films draw from the margins of archival documents, moving between personal anecdotes and cultural gestures, to reassess narratives and collective histories. 

from the corner of my eye included several short video works by Campbell, a live performative reading, and a new collaborative writing piece.

Shown: Crystal Z Campbell, Video still from Viewfinder, 2020

Viewfinder, filmed in Sweden, (2020) depicts a punctual action that transcends history drawing a parallel between everyday gestures, belonging, and memory. Campbell layers their own historical fabulations and memories over footage from a 35 mm film found at the legendary Slave Theatre in Brooklyn in Gorilla Means War (2017), and over images from the demolition of the failed housing project of Pruit Igoe, in St. Louis in Futures for Failures (2011).

Shown: Crystal Z Campbell, Installation view from Go-Rilla Means War, 2017

While these two films respond to residential segregation or gentrification, A Meditation on Nature in the Absence of an Eclipse (2017) deals with streams of environmental racism using stock footage. In A Dark Love Story for Clowns (2009) Campbell combines a fictional story by William Faulkner with the Yoruban ere ibeji memorial figures for deceased twins. Witness (2010) punctuates the importance of deep listening over the relentless imposition of visual violence.

from the corner of my eye suggests that the scars of history are palpable in the minutiae that surround personal experience. Campbell’s work seeks active justice beyond public recognition, through the silenced histories that remain present in the traces of their aftermath.

Crystal Z Campbell: from the corner of my eye was curated by Almudena Escobar López, Graduate Director of Hartnett Gallery. Alongside from the corner of my eye, there is a forthcoming publication on the works featuring writings by Campbell and Escobar López, edited by Julie Niemi, independent curator, editor, and writer. 

Click here for the press release.


screening room

more information about the films here

collaborative text 

written by Crystal Z Campbell and Almudena Escobar López as a sneak preview of the forthcoming publication edited by Julie Niemi.  


performative reading 

On Monday, March 15th at 8pm (EST), the Hartnett Gallery hosted a performative reading by Campbell followed by a conversation with Julie Niemi, and Almudena Escobar López.

Shown: Crystal Z Campbell, Video still from Viewfinder, 2020

about the artist

Crystal Z Campbell is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of African-American, Filipino, and Chinese descents. Campbell finds complexity in the public secret, or a fragment of information which is known by many, but perhaps undertold or unspoken. Campbell engages with sonic, material, and archival traces of the witness through film/video, live performance, installation, sound, painting, and writing. Honors and awards include the Pollock-Krasner Award; MAP Fund; MacDowell; Rijksakademie; Whitney ISP; Franklin Furnace; Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and Flaherty Film Seminar. Exhibitions include the Drawing Center (US), Nest (NL), ICA-Philadelphia (US), REDCAT (US), Artissima (IT), Studio Museum of Harlem (US), SFMOMA (US), and SculptureCenter (US), amongst others. Campbell’s writing has been featured in World Literature Today, Monday Journal, GARAGE, and Hyperallergic. Campbell is a Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center & David and Roberta Logie Fellow (2020-2021) living and working in Oklahoma. Campbell is founder of the virtual programming platform

Hartnett Gallery is funded by the University of Rochester Students’ Association and the venture fund from the office of the President of the University of Rochester. from the corner of my eye is also supported by the Art and Art History Department of the University of Rochester, the Film and Media Studies Department of the University of Rochester, the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies (VCS), and the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies.