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A Bagatelle for Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)
a screening of filmic ephemera and cinematic wonders
presented for the Centennial of Cornell's birth
at Woodland Pattern's Seasonal Open House
Sunday, December 14 at 2pm, FREE

On Christmas Eve, 2003,Joseph Cornell the American artist Joseph Cornell would have been 100 years-old. In anticipation of this centennial, the UWM Film Department will offer a screening of filmic ephemera and magical charmers from early cinema—the very type of film that Cornell himself owned and enjoyed screening—as part of this year's Open House at Woodland Pattern Book Center.

Joseph Cornell, the genius behind the boxed 3-dimensional collages, one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, was spellbound by cinema. Not only did certain actresses reign as objects of devotion and inspiration for his boxes and collages, but Cornell was also a resolutely "amateur" filmmaker of great invention (he helped initiate a filmic form, the found footage film) and generous beguilement. A dedicated gatherer with specialized affinities, he also corralled a considerable collection of 16mm films, which he always enjoyed unspooling given the occasion. Among his holdings were films from early cinema (French "trick films," such as the work of pioneers George Melies and Ferdinand Zecca), Chaplin one-reelers, dance films, and curiosities all sharing a tendency to delight.

In the spirit of the screenings Cornell would present, A Bagatelle for Joseph Cornell is a deliberate "trifle" of a film program offered in kindred spirit to the work Cornell would himself screen.

This free screening will offer some early cinematic trick films, by Melies and Zecca; shimmering filmic visions of some of Cornell's beloved film actresses and ballet dancers (Greta Garbo, Hedy Lamarr, and Anne Pavlova); and some films from, we think, artists akin to Cornell's sense of play and assemblagist wonder (Sidney Peterson's 1947 dance film, Clinic of Stumble; Jerome Hill's 1968 bird animation The Canaries; and Courtney Hoskins' 2002 Snow Flukes, which aligns ice skating and Felix the Cat).

Also to be presented is Larry Jordan's Cornell, 1965, a short and personal documentary of Cornell at work, made by Cornell's one-time collaborator. Offering detailed close-ups of many of Cornell's boxes, this film also offers the only film footage of Cornell.

Something of a children's party for adults (and save, perhaps, for some glimpses of a skinny-dipping Hedy Lamarr, suitable for children as well), this screening, offered as a tribute and a commemoration, aspires to the delight that Cornell hoped to reveal with a projector.

The screening was also prompted, please note, by the stunning art work—naturalist, witty, surprising—of JoAnna Poehlmann, whose paintings and assemblages (including a tribute to Cornell) are already gracing Woodland Pattern's gallery walls. JoAnna Poehlmann: Leaf, Feather, Fin & Fugue will run through December 31, 2003.

Suitable to any birthday party and only customary to a Woodland Pattern Open House, baked goods and treats will be served.

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