The Magical Films of Joseph Cornell

posted: 01-12-10
Joseph Cornell, Sand Fountain
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A rare screening of Joseph Cornell's short films provides an occasion to reflect on the apparent relationships between his artistic preoccupations (assemblage, microcosm, memory) and those of longtime associate Marcel Duchamp (assemblage, "the waterfall and the illuminating gas"). The word "dreamlike" is often used to characterize these blind cinematic anecdotes, where significance is elusive, bound primarily by the film frame; the effect is paradoxically neither purely "retinal" nor overtly cerebral, reminiscent of the famously haunted quality of Duchamp's Étant donnés.

(Those in the Chicago area may see the films themselves on Tuesday, January 12 at Doc Films; start time is 7 p.m. A commercial DVD is also available.)


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