An Evening with Joseph Cornell
An Evening with Joseph Cornell Performance Lecture, 60 minutes, 2002 - 2012
Lights out. Sound up: the recorded voice of professional trance medium Valerie Winborne speaks as the spirit of the American artist Joseph Cornell. Cornell muses on his work, his reputation, his legacy, his dreams. Lights come up just a little, and we spend the next hour taking the audience on a journey that explores biography, storytelling, spirituality, art history, and mythology.
The primary material of "An Evening with Joseph Cornell" is a series of audio recordings documenting "interviews" we conducted in 2002, in the presence of Cornell's box constructions, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The lecture presents extended samples of the five spirit mediums through whom Cornell communicated, framed by an admittedly witty but also serious and analytical narration and illustrated by slides of Cornell's enigmatic works, journal entries, paper ephemera, family photos, historical photos of his NYC "haunts," film stills, and related themes. We discuss the various ethical and practical issues involved in the making of the "Art After Death" series of which the Cornell work is a part: the odd conflation of art historians and spirit mediums; the uncanny "truths" which emerge; the meaning of "inspiration"; the ownership of an artist's legacy, and much more.