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Stan Brakhage


Joseph Cornell
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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Joseph Cornell. I met him when I was in, I screened his films for the first time in New York the day JFK was shot and there is a long story there, but he came to the... he gave all his films to Anthology and, of course, you know, if you went to his house, I mean there were... he had... there was some similarities with George Maciunas of Fluxus movement where George was working on many, many, many pieces at the same time, many little boxes. They were, like, growing naturally, like... every day he added something to that or that. Joseph Cornell was the same. He had various boxes in the basement in every corner there that were in different stages of growth, of changing. In any case, he came to... and he played games with us very... we went... Luckily, whenever I went to him to visit him, P Adams Sitney went with me who has a very good memory, I don't have such memory as P Adams Sitney and Cornell would say, 'Okay, the line in my film The Legend Fountains, that line there... and I forget the line, where is it from?' Luckily P Adams knew it, the Garcia Lorca. That, of course, made his day and our day and we were okay because we... we were knowledgeable enough.

So he came to Anthology's opening and there he sits on the steps there and Parker Tyler, a poet... Actually a better poet than anybody knows right now because I think he's one of the underestimated poets, but he also wrote a great, I think, novel, the only one together with Henry Ford, WilderYoung and Wilder or whatever the title is, but I think it's great, very ungrammatical great, and has written several books on various artists. An art historian and was very knowledgeable in the avant-garde film, wrote several very good essays on... on early work of Brakhage, Markopoluos. So he sits next to Cornell, there they are, they talk and then Joseph Cornell turns to Parker Tyler and said, 'Parker, I would like... maybe you could return to me that box I gave you, remember, ten years ago I gave you that box?' And Parker Tyler is shocked. 'Joseph, I mean... you...you gave it, didn't you give this to me?' And Joseph Cornell says, 'Yes, but you didn't see the invisible strings attached to it'. That is Joseph Cornell, because Parker Tyler wrote something somewhere about something that Joseph Cornell did not like so then he... he wanted, you know, it back.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: The Legend Fountains, P Adams Sitney, Joseph Cornell, Parker Tyler

Duration: 3 minutes, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 29 September 2010