los-angeles

View of “Isabelle Studies,” 1984–85. Cornaro,” 2014. From left: Premier rêve d’Oskar Fischinger (Part II) (Oskar Fischinger’s First Dream [Part II]), 2008; Figures, 2011; Film-Lampe, 2010.

Isabelle Cornaro

Laxart

View of “Isabelle Studies,” 1984–85. Cornaro,” 2014. From left: Premier rêve d’Oskar Fischinger (Part II) (Oskar Fischinger’s First Dream [Part II]), 2008; Figures, 2011; Film-Lampe, 2010.

The establishing shot arrives almost halfway through Isabelle Cornaro’s Figures,2011. It’s not much of a wait; the film runs only two and a half minutes. But with this long shot comes a delicate shift in tone and, seemingly, in intention. The scene could almost pass for the Hollywood trick (familiar from Body Double, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and a dozen other movies about movies) in which an opening sequence is abruptly revealed as a film take: We’re not where we thought we were; we’re on set.

Cornaro is an artist of drifts and quiet permutations, and her version of this maneuver is miniaturized and, significantly, depopulated. The set consists of a spread of antique tchotchkes: buttons, figurines, coins, compacts, vials. The early impression of someone’s dressing table is quickly dispelled as the film takes on an increasingly analytic quality, scrutinizing the aged articles with

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