URBAN ENVIRONMENTS AND GENIUS LOCI IN AGNÈS VARDA’S FILMS

Abstract: Focusing on Agnès Varda’s ethnographic eye and her cinematic subjectivity in the nexus of urban environments, this chapter will examine five of Varda’s short films: L'Opera Mouffe (1958), Daguerréotypes (1976), and Les Dites Cariatides (1984), each set in Paris and all of which elaborate the connection between Varda’s experiences and the places where she found intimate relationships; as well as Uncle Yanco(1967) and Mur Murs (1980), which represent her encounters with environments, inhabitants and the spirit of public spaces in Cuba and Los Angeles, respectively. The common point in the mentioned films are Varda’s visual language which seeks “the spirit of the place” or “genius loci”. The term “genius loci” coined by Christian Norberg-Schulz refers to the “protective spirit” myth in Culture of ancient Rome defines places according to in cultural, social, ecological, and aesthetic values and and correlates place with the body. Varda’s treatment of each of these spaces invites cross-comparisons of her films, set in both familiar and foreign urban landscapes. This chapter focuses on human connections with place by regarding the phenomenological concept of, body-subject as she filmed. The relationship of people-environment, which is evaluated conceptually will be explored by considering Varda’s framing of identity through place, memory, and personal impressions. Using genius loci as a guiding concept at the nexus of intimate experience and cinematic subjectivity exposes her engagements with the environment.

PS: This article will publish in the book "Gender Equality and Sustainability: Agnès Varda's Sustaining Legacy"  by Rutgers University Press on the upcoming period.