Wednesday 5 May 2010

Agnès Varda

While it's wonderful of course to discover new artists who fill me with joy and set my mind buzzing, those I loved many years ago and love still have a special place. In a world, a life, where I feel adrift and dangerously unattached to place or people, they are a kind of home - a steady reflection of my own heart.  One such is the French film-maker, photographer and installation artist Agnès Varda, whose film One Sings, The Other Doesn't I fell in love with more than thirty years ago and whose 2008 autobiographical film Les Plages d'Agnès I loved as much, no, more. More because I brought to it a richer experience of... well 'art and life', which is what it's about - her life and her life as a film-maker, which are not separate.

It's a long time since 1977 and I must admit that I didn't recognise the clip from One Sings, The Other Doesn't that was shown last night at Ginette Vincendeau's talk on the opening night of the Agnès Varda retrospective at the BFI.  I really don't remember anything about that film apart from the exceptional pleasure and recognition I felt when I watched it, which made me thenceforth a huge fan of Varda. Sans Toit ni Loi (Vagabond), which launched Sandrine Bonnaire's career in the 1980s, I remember much better - I suppose because by then I'd acquired some of the artistic and political frame of reference I still have.

The talk and clips last night absorbed and excited me, even after a very hard day at work.  What  Agnès Varda does is what I want and need art to do - this raw depiction of the ordinary, along with disjunction, surprise, questioning of viewpoint, and also, always, this beauty of framing, of colour.

I have a lot more to say about what Varda and her art embody for me, if I can ever formulate my thoughts, which are messy and tentative and possibly a vain effort to put into words what she so wonderfully articulates through images.

Trailer for The Beaches of Agnès.


marja-leena said...

Jean, your last statement makes me want to say that I think you do express your thoughts very sensitively and clearly, something that draws me to your writing and your images and leaves me richer for it. And wishing I could write like you!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

What a marvellous photo of Varda, Jean, all browns and reds, and that very involved, 'engagée' expression she always has.

Very glad to have seen Les Plages d'Agnes with you last year - such a memorable, inspirational film. And I enjoyed last night's clips too.

Dale said...

Unknown to me! I'll keep an eye out now.

Pica said...

I too loved One Sings but hadn't heard of Les Plages, will look out for it!