Keith Sanborn
Mirror (1999)
6:00. Color and black & white. Stereo sound

An attempt to reach Joan of Arc in her final moments as she beholds the beatific vision. To reach her, however, some anachronisms and a few propositions about psychology, mysticism, and eroticism were necessary.

I am a graduate of Catholicism and I believe the visual and intellectual aspects of my religious education caused me to cultivate a certain way of reading images; it also gave me a feel for the oxymoronic aspects of that phrase “reading images.” The title “Mirror” was suggested by Hildegard von Bingen’s “O felix anima,” which is used as part of the soundtrack. The lyrics to the song appear in my own translation near the end of the piece. While Joan—as Hildegard’s joyous soul—would be a reflection of Divine Intelligence, the mirror alluded to suggested to me the idea of historical mirroring and of course Lacan’s mirror phase. English medieval mystic Walter Hilton wrote a treatise he called “The Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection.” After Hilton, I might have called this “The Mirror of Perfection,” but I thought better of it.

I have dedicated the work to Joan (Jehanne) herself, to Ghen Dennis who, as a media artist and curator at Squeaky Wheel in Buffalo, had some responsibility for inducing me to make this work, and to Chris Ofili whose recent black Madonna has been greeted with so many racist screeds disguised as righteous indignation by politicians and media pundits.