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 at first sight during this year’s Oscars’ red carpet and I don’t only mean fashion wise. Faces Places was nominated for Best Documentary. Later on, I bumped into Agnès on @pharrell’s IG feed. But it was only months later that I bumped into the documentary’s poster and said UhOohOh!. Oh.

A friend once told me not to judge a film by its poster; a poster means nothing, she then said. Firstly, I don’t judge; I just look at whatever catches my eye. Secondly, 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 catches my eye. It can be the most simple cover in the world, without any previous train of thought whatsoever. They also say don’t judge a book by its cover.

I say don’t judge, full stop. Let’s just grasp on what we like and tickles us. They also say that about people. That it is 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) how someone was dressed, I never left thinking Someone was dressed so cool!. I left with That someone is so cool!. If one is just not cool, who cares about what one’s dressed in anyway? If there’s no tickling, there’s nothing.

In an interview on theguardian.com, Agnès was saying that she’d thought of attending the Oscars in pyjamas. She did it in a Gucci one. In the same interview, she said she wore one of her old dresses to all of the previous red carpet events.

JR… ? His smile lights up so powerfully his expressive featured, warm face that the sunglasses and fedora he always disguises with in public don’t seem to intrigue anymore. It’s a harmony around him, in the eyes you can’t see (but feel), he evokes through his image by what and how he wears along with the images he creates around the world. In a beautiful newyorker.com interview, we get to understand how JR’s glowing testament to the power of the image and joy for life help art play a role in transforming lives. JR is an idealist.

Returning to the poster, something about it stuck with me and I told myself I wanted to see the documentary. But then Summer 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), there wasn’t anyone available to go with, I said I’m coming! (it used to be one of our traditions not so long ago), I looked for movies in theatres and saw that Visages Villages was out. This is it, mom!. Without further questions or any trailer (durr), mom openly said: Let’s go!.

I only knew that it was made by Agnès Varda and JR. It was written on the poster, dur. Anything that means… Almost anything intrigues me. I like it when I’m faced with an artwork out of my routine. When it’s something else!, I’d told my mom before the documentary started. Yeah, mom calmly responded. From the moment it started, we both knew it’s something else so we sinked in the armchairs, film, 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, like many others, is not easily categorized. He is 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 aging than the French do; certainly few people in either country embrace age with as much whimsy and confidence as she has. 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 the cinema experience with mom was the fact that it was only us and two other people (French!) in the theatre at the moment; we, therefore, had the theatre to ourselves and enjoyed a kind of intimacy that was brilliant along with the ongoing film. Bliss. An intimacy we could share whispers with each other (each spectator in each of the two couples). 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 is so wonderful to share your mind with someone else’s and let the two minds become one somehow. The watching, the thinking, the senses come into more hues, become even nicer, smoother, easier.

This is how it also went for Agnès and JR. They, with everything each of them formed the they, seemed to knit their minds into one of the most natural and lovely way. Rather than otherwise, it were their souls sending a heart up in the air. Not a helium balloon. A heart. Helium is not as romantic as a word as heart is. The two formed a love they sent up in the air as their documentary. A love for people, nature, the passion people have for the things they do in their day to day lives which are so complex through their simplicity. For soul.

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, Agnès said.

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, first and foremost, care about honesty. Beyond everything, though, 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. As the joy of looking forward to get home and, quietly at peace, savour the moments of discovering them. 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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