Faces Places

July 07, 2018

When there’s an interior debate whether something’s on Culture or Inspiration, the something becomes art and art is like a declaration of love, so the something becomes the everything. When watching something artistic, we sink into it, forget about anything and connect to ourselves. To loved ones, to feelings, to faces, to places.

Agnès Varda caught my eye, it was kind of love at first, during this year’s Oscars’ red carpet and I don’t only mean fashion wise, love at first sight never means just that. Faces Places was nominated for Best Documentary. Later on, I stumbled across Agnès on Pharrell’s Instagram. It was only months later, however, that I bumped into the documentary’s poster and said to myself Uh-oh. Oh.

A friend once told me not to judge a film by its poster; a poster means nothing, she then said. First of all, I don’t judge, I just look at whatever catches my eye. Second of all, a cover (generally speaking) of something that has already been created with soul and all (best case scenario), has a soul on its own and, therefore, can not but catch my eye. It can be the most simple cover in the world, with no previous train of thought whatsoever.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover. I say don’t judge, full stop. Let’s grasp on what we like and tickles us. They also say that about people. That it’s not the cover that matters and by matters I, certainly, don’t mean preppy, maybe au contraire. I figured out there are no rules. Most often, when I liked (when I liked, liked) what someone was dressed like, I never left the party thinking Someone was dressed so cool. I left with That someone is so cool. If someone is not cool, who cares about what someone’s dressed in anyway? If there’s no tickling, there’s no party, there’s no thing.

In an interview ontheguardian.com, Agnès said that she’d thought of attending the Oscars in pajamas. She did it in a Gucci one. In the same interview, she said she wore one of her old dresses to all of the red carpet events. Originality is key.

JR… ? His smile lights up, so powerfully, his expressive, warm face that the sunglasses and fedora he hides behind in public don’t seem to hide him. It’s all out there regardless. Through the eyes you can’t see, but feel. What he evokes, through his individual style, he evokes through the style of the images he creates around the world, also. In a beautifulnewyorker.com interview, we get to understand how JR’s glowing testament to the power of image and joy for life help art play a role in transforming lives. JR is an idealist.

Something about the poster stuck with me and I told myself I wanted to see the documentary, but then summer got stuck with me for a bit. It wasn’t until one day, the other day, that my mom wanted to go to the cinema (she goes to the cinema more often than I do), no friend of hers was available, so I said I’m coming!. It used to be one of our traditions until not so long ago. I looked for movies in theatres and saw that Visages Villages was out. This is it, mom!. Without further ado and no trailer (duh), mom gladly said Let’s go!.

I only knew that it was made by Agnès Varda and JR; it came with the poster, duh-duh. When something intrigues me… I like it when I’m faced with an artwork  that is out of my routine. When it’s something else!, I told my mom ahead of the documentary. Yeah, mom calmly responded. From the moment it started, we both knew it’s something else, so we sinked in our armchairs, in the film, in ourselves.

La Pointe Courte was both Agnès’ first film and the film that started La Nouvelle Vague movement, one of the most influential movements in the history of cinema. It was 1955 and she was 27.

Agnès Varda with Catherine Deneuve in the ’60s.
Agnès Varda with her husband, Jacques Demy in the ’80s

JR is a French artist who is not easily categorized and f*ck categories, anyway. He’s a photographer who is uncomfortable with photography, a filmmaker, a photograffeur, as he likes to describe himself, that flyposts large black-and-white photographic images in public locations.

Street artist JR poses in front the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. For his latest bold project, street artist JR is creating an eye-tricking installation at the Louvre Museum that makes it seem as if the huge glass pyramid at the heart of the courtyard has disappeared. AP Photo: Francois Mori

The two are kindred spirits, as the media describes them in an attempt to categorize their relationship somehow.

The fact that I’m going around with a man who is fifty-five years younger than I am, I think that makes them laugh, but also bothers them a bit. Americans, Varda thinks, have more of an anxious relationship to ageing than the French do. Certainly, few people in either country embrace age with as much wit and confidence as she does. I’m just a little deteriorating lady, she said, using a word, abîmée, that might refer to a rotting piece of fruit. But I’m not sad! I have trouble seeing. I don’t hear well. I’m not good with stairs. But people always tell me that I’m full of energy. I am! Energy has nothing to do with the body. It’s the mind, it’s the brain, it’s the joie de vivre. She paused to consider. But listen, I don’t want to say that I’m in great health, either, excerpt from an interview in The New Yorker.

One of the best parts of this particular cinema experience with mom was the fact that it was only us and two other (French) people in the theatre. We had the theatre to ourselves and enjoyed a kind of intimacy that went hand in hand with the film. Bliss. An intimacy we could exchange whispers with each other in. And some chocolate mom always carries in her bag. The experience of watching something on your own is nice and interesting; it creates the space for you to explore anything you want, the vision, the thoughts. Equally, though, it’s so wonderful to share your mind with someone else’s and let the two minds become one. The watching, the feeling, the thinking, the senses, everything becomes kind of nicer, smoother, easier only when in the magical kind of company.

It’s, also, how it went for Agnès and JR. They seemed to have knitted their minds into one. Naturally. Lovely. Their souls sent a heart up in the air. Not a helium balloon. A heart. Helium is not as romantic as heart is. The two formed this bubble of love in the form of this documentary they sent up in the air. Love for people, nature, the passion people have for the things they do in their everyday life. It’s just as complex as it is simple. For the heart.

We are very small, in proportion to what is art, but we are very big, because we can stand up and isolate ourselves from the majority, said Agnès.

Beyond the words that describe the two or the film they did is the fact that they are two cool human beings that seem to care, first and foremost, about honesty. Beyond all, the joy of bumping into people like Agnès and JR is just as great as the joy my mom and I felt throughout the documentary. With and about people. The joy of bumping into people like Agnès and JR is just as great as the joy of looking forward to get home and, at peace, savour discovering more about them. About Agnès and JR.

Inside Out, JR
Women are heroes, Brazil, JR
Women are heroes, JR
The standing march, Pantheon, Paris, JR


Agnès Varda

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Hey, this is Cristina Pavelescu wearing a music cassette sweater, decoding (life) style and writing from wherever, yet always living in OZ, a world I invite you into. To smile in front of our screens (and live one day), put any kind of questions, answer in writing (or imagination) and marvel at fashion which is, in fact, style.


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