Films are like homes. A modest tent in the Silent Green’s garden begs you to come inside. It’s Sandrine Bonnaire’s tent from “Vogelfrei,” and the tarpaulins are composed of celluloid strips from Agnès Varda’s 1985 Golden Lion-winning film. The film material is thus recycled into a refuge, which has become a waste product in the digital age. The backpack of the young tramp is also still there. A rustic cottage further back, near the graveyard, holds a burial mound with a multimedia installation dedicated to Varda’s beloved cat Zgougou. Varda would have enjoyed the German humor about a cat cemetery.
Agnès Varda, “Agnès was there” — the filmmaker would have enjoyed curator Julia Fabry’s play on words in the catalogue. As she described herself in documentaries like “The Beaches of Agnès” and “Varda par Agnès,” the little, cheery, talkative Agnès enjoyed wordplay and portmanteau, the lightly created language – and the imagery she inspires.
She’s still around. Varda opens a plastic curtain at the bottom of the concrete hall’s ramp, the same curtain on which the brief film loop is projected, and walks towards the visitor. The beach, one of her favorite beaches, lies just beyond: the Atlantic photo ebbs out in film waves onto a genuine expanse of sand. She once stated that if you could open people, you’d find landscapes.
Julia Fabry and Dominique Bluher have produced an exhibition dedicated to Agnès Varda’s “Third Life” in the old crematorium in Berlin’s Wedding, which is accompanied with a film series at the Arsenal theater. The New Wave pioneer, who died in 2019 at the age of 90, is best recognized for his work as a filmmaker and photographer. Her visual arts are being shown for the first time in this exhibition.
It’s autobiographically tinted in the same manner that her cinematic works are: a wavy line course with films, assemblages, triptychs, film still series, and the polyptych “The Widows of Noirmoutier,” which was influenced by early panel paintings. 14 projections frame the core movie of ladies walking on the beach, with headphones hung from each of the 14 chairs in front of it. As a result, you may listen to the women on the Atlantic island talking about themselves. Another re-use: this is the basis for your 2006 documentary.
Varda’s potato art is breathtaking.
Varda’s photo series of strolling individuals from the 1950s is the first step over her distinctive, cheery self-portraits from 1949, 1962, and 2009 — as a Roman mosaic, a Renaissance profile in a Bellini painting, a mirror-splinter likeness. Back on the beach, a Portuguese woman carries a washbasin on her head with her child inside; a Chinese water carrier stands close to ladies carrying big hay bales. Varda has long been fascinated by the contradiction between bodies in motion and motionless black and white pictures.
The beaches that Agnès Varda adores. A video display made of genuine sand evokes the director’s longing spot. Silent Green (photo)
The best part is their potato art. She was ecstatic about the introduction of the digital camera when filming “The Collector and the Collector,” which launches the film series on Saturday. She was able to contact those who live on waste, on what is left on the affluent society’s garbage dumps, with little effort. She discovered heart-shaped potatoes, which were typically discarded due to their deformity. She shot the strange structures with wrinkled skin, multiplying bacteria, and purple root threads after she stored them and let them decompose. Wonders of transience, which she honored at the 2003 Venice Biennale with her triptych “Patatutopia.”
In Silent Green, she has a photo series with potato hearts set on pumpkin pedestals, as well as previously unseen snapshots from Dinkelsbühl, Bavaria, from 1960. Children, passers-by, workers, and suppliers in the small town are all waste products of their voracious curiosity. She was actually working as a photographer for the magazine “Réalités” in Dinkelsbühl. Curiosity was sometimes tied to my own work. So she followed the tale behind her 1954 photograph of Cuba – a dead goat on the beach with one eye open, a man and a boy in the backdrop, both naked – in the short film “Ulysse” 28 years later.
Glances, memories, head cinema, and dreams are just a few of the things that come to mind. Varda’s installation “Homage to the Just” for the Paris Pantheon, which will also be on view in the dome hall from July 10: the curators’ catalog essays define Varda’s universe, humanism, echo chambers, and inspirations. When she traveled, she, for example, carried the writings of Gaston Bachelard, a philosopher and reverie expert with whom she had studied. She didn’t bother to read them.
And there she is, at the edge of the parcours, in her potato dress, which she debuted as a visual artist at the Biennale in 2003 and wowed onlookers. Varda, the stumbling block: You can hear her voice reading the names of historic potato kinds if you approach close enough to the costume
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