MAC/VAL

MAC/VAL is opened every day of the week, except on mondays:
tuesday to friday, 10 h to 18 h
week-ends and holidays, 12 h to 19 h.

Closed on january 1st, may 1st and december 25th.

phone: 01 43 91 64 20
fax: 01 79 86 16 57

Access map

Place de la Libération
94400 Vitry-sur-Seine

-10/000

Agnès Varda

Notice

Agnès Varda is a photographer, film director
and producer, and one of the leading figures
in independent film in France. After
studying at the École du Louvre and
obtaining a vocational training certificate
(CAP) in photography, she became the
photographer of Jean Vilar’s French
National Theatre’s (TNP), and the official
Avignon Festival photographer. As a
precocious film-maker, she started her
career with La Pointe courte in 1954, the
boldness of which prefigures the Nouvelle
Vague. She is very free in her approach
and in her narrative constructs, making no
distinction between fiction and documentary:
with her, reality is always at once a
source of metaphors and narratives. She was
also the partner of the director Jacques
Demy, still very present in her work.
In the 2000s, she embarked on a new career
as a visual artist. In 2003, she created
Patatutopia, her first installation, at the
invitation of the Venice Biennale. In 2006,
the Cartier Foundation organised a major
solo show of her work: ‘L’ILE et ELLE’.
La Mer immense et la Petite Mer immense
[The Immense Sea and the Immense Little
Sea] is a photographic installation. A
photographer first and foremost, Agnès Varda
captures a ‘split second’: ‘I was walking
on the beach and saw this glow which was
falling straight from the sky onto a small
distant patch of the ocean... I took a
photo, just one.’ From that moment, the
artist created an exhibition installation
questioning the status of the image and the
pictorial and photographic history of the
motif.

It is impossible not to think of the
seascapes of Gustave Le Gray (1856–1858),
in which the sea appears like an empty,
grey, golden vastness, a reflecting surface
beneath scudding clouds. At that time,
everything conspired against photography
in the making: the expanse of water, the
reflections, the perpetual motion. So it was
necessary to ‘construct’ the image of it,
to get rid of all the factors that would
give the scale in order to give a sense of
grandeur. To render both sky and sea, Le
Gray would use two negatives for one and
the same print, a country sky accompanying
the sea. So one of the first ‘real’
depictions of the sea is a composite image
seeking to imitate some of the effects
of painting.

It is possible that the photographer’s
memory and that of the former École du
Louvre student were galvanised at the
moment of taking the shot. Agnès Varda
orchestrates nothing less than something
‘scenographic’ – a ‘set design’: the image
is presented thrice, on different surfaces,
and is accompanied by a soundtrack that
lets us hear the noise of the sea in
a loop.

Ar.B.