Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, 1936)

Ah, Rose Hobart – our favourite short film of all time.  Salvaged from a discarded print of East of Borneo (George Melford, 1931), recut and shot through the cobalt blue glass of a Noxzema jar, projected at “silent speed” and accompanied by Cornell’s collection of samba music, the artist who couldn’t paint created a film without touching a camera.  Cornell offers a wondrous, dream-like vision of sexual obsession and psychic anxiety, one that seems to originate from dark, exotic lands and even across the vast emptiness of space.  Despite confounding its audience at its initial screening at the Julien Levy Gallery, Salvador Dalí recognized the brilliance of Rose Hobart, kicking over Cornell’s projector in an act of pure envy.  Such is the genius of Cornell and the strange subconscious journey of this found footage fetish object.

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