URBAN ENVIRONMENTS AND GENIUS LOCI IN AGNÈS VARDA’S FILMS
Zeynep Demirhan and Colleen Kennedy-Karpat
Abstract: Focusing on Agnès Varda’s ethnographic eye and her cinematic subjectivity in urban environments, this chapter will examine five short films in order to compare Varda’s perspective on her home city of Paris with that of her temporarily adopted home on the American West Coast. All set in the French capital, L'Opéra Mouffe (1958), Daguerréotypes (1976), and Les Dites Cariatides (1984) each elaborate connections between Varda’s experience and the places where she found intimate relationships; across the ocean, Uncle Yanco (1967) and Mur Murs (1980) represent her encounters with the environments and inhabitants of California. The common point in all these films is Varda’s visual language, which seeks what architectural theorist Christian Norberg-Schultz called genius loci, after the Roman myth of a protective spirit that defines a place and correlates it with the body. This chapter unpacks human connections with place and environment by considering the concepts of genius loci and the body-subject as framed in Varda’s urban shorts.
This article was published in the book "Gender Equality and Sustainability: Agnès Varda's Sustaining Legacy" by Bloomsbury Publishing in March 2022.
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