Kathryn Cornelius

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Home Again, Home Again (A Comedy, A Tragedy), 2010

HD Video, 5m 25s, Dimensions Variable


The mixing of public and private space in popular media profoundly impacts our psychological and collective social consciousness. This video addresses family dynamics and the conventions of filmmaking as a way to explore how personal experience and our ideas about relationships are mediated by popular culture.

Through the appropriation of the Hollywood movie trailer format and dialog constructed using famous movie quotes, the popular idiom, “You can’t go home again,” serves as the basis for a seemingly narrative construction of scenes.

Two versions – comedy and tragedy – comprise the video, each with variations in clip choice and placement, and with different soundtracks. There is a duality inherent in emotional expression: a humorous moment can suddenly become tragic, or a sad emotional pause can fall apart and fill with laughter.

Movie quotes demonstrate what linguist Deborah Tannen calls “prior texts,” where quotation serves as a way to connect in social settings. This is similar to how family members retell stories about themselves (i.e. a great grandmother’s immigration to the US) as a way to reinforce familial bonds.

Through placing the quotes in the frame of the movie trailer, the power with which these Hollywood quotes circulate is revealed, and the words themselves take on new meaning when juxtaposed together. In recognizing some of the quotes, the viewer is brought directly into the implied narrative of the work, and becomes engaged in creating meaning out of the fragments, ultimately completing the final emotive expression of the work.

Artworks by Kathryn Cornelius

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