Thursday, February 25, 2010

Artists and amateurs















This week we studied the amazing amusing films of American artist Joseph Cornell, locating them at the intersection of his deep involvement with collage and his love for the cinema. "ROSE HOBART" (1936)is his infamous 16mm film-collage portrait of the actress Rose Hobart made from the 1931 jungle drama "East of Borneo" in which the artist essentially excises from the film all that is not the object of his devotion. Your fearless leader spent many years holed up at Anthology Film Archives studyng and cataloging his film collection, and wrote this monograph for the SFMOMA Cornell exhibition a few years back.

Looking further then into amateur film--home movies, family films and personal archives . Abigail Child's The Future is Behind You (2004) was one example of an artist using films from a family's collection and creating her own story around those images and people--if you liked that you might be interested in reading a short interview with her in the Wees book as well.

The first real history on that subject was Patricia Zimmerman's Reel Families: A Social History of the Amateur Film (1995), Here's an excerpt for you!

3 comments:

Jacob W. said...

Thank you for including the link to that monograph, certainly one of those lovely treasures that is often unjustly hidden amongst the electronic riff-raff...

M.Myser said...

In relation to the articles.....

I'm having a hard time with the "reel families" article. I think that the article is very dense, but really i am finding myself disagreeing with Zimmermann. I do not agree that amateurism supports a capitalist society, or capitalism at all for that matter. I find myself thinking capitalism is build on a world that depends on a lot of "professionals" that make and want to make lots and lots of money without any respect to the human being or the human hand what so ever.
"Amateurism materializes as a cultural reservoir for the liberal plurist ideals of freedom, competition, fluidity among classes, upward mobility, and inalienable and creative labor..." Yes, i do agree that it represents freedom and creativeness though i think her idea of class division and mobility within them is a little far fetched for my liking. The idea of amateurism to me does not mean anything is not as good or less in quality but is not produced as a business and simply for ones self instead. This idea of a capitalist society being build on amateurism is a little much for me.

I did enjoy this quote from the article though. Perhaps not for the same reason that Zimmermann intended it to be used for but...

"The imaginary fluidity between professionals and amateurs thus supports the myth of personal fulfillment."

I have always though that one feels a personal fulfillment when something is done simply for ones self and ones own happieness. Not for the money or production or buisness of things. But for their own personal happiness... what else can one want.

What makes someone a professional or an amateur? Is it simple a job in that field? i do not think so...

But in relation to the Cornell article i really enjoyed this additional background information on him. It makes him seem less...weird. in my mind. Plus the connections between all of the artists we study is so awesome. There was a specific quote that stuck with me stating, "They were lively, whimsical, moving, and incredibly diverse like the artists output." Such a different and diverse imagination. I really enjoyed this.

Ryan Simpson said...

I agree with Melissa that the Zimmerman article is a doozy and tough to get through, but underlying it all, a point I gleaned sort of inadvertently was that of the amateur influencing the professional world. It's not directly brought to attention (and more correctly, stifled underneath loooooong extrapolations of class distinctions) but when Zimmerman states "amateurism became the social and cultural site where one could revive one's self, which was invariably vivacious, ambitious, and imaginative." I found myself thinking about Cornell.

Maybe it was in connection to his life as a textile salesman and his seeming refusal to assimilate into the "professional" art world - but when I read that quote, I thought about how the "professional" Dali reacted after Rose Hobart and very obviously, Dali inspiration from an amateur. I don't feel right calling Cornell an amateur in this sense, but wasn't he sort of viewed this way since he didn't feed himself with his art? In comparison to the Surrealists... Either way, I wonder if Cornell would have made similar works had he chosen to provide for himself through art, had he not the "cultural site to revive oneself."

Are we going to watch What Makes Day and Night in class?