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Issue 175

Questionnaire: Agnès Varda

Q: What should change? A: Poverty in the world. Injustice.

BY Agnès Varda in Interviews , Questionnaires | 21 OCT 15

What images keep you company in the space where you work?

The space itself, wherever I am, as a combination of images surrounded by silence.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

At first it was a reproduction – of Albrecht Dürer’s Study of Hands (1506). Later, I saw real paintings at the Louvre. I’m not a believer and never was but I was impressed by Enguerrand Quarton’s Pietà of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon (c.1450–60).

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?

A stone that I consider beautiful.

What is your favourite title of an artwork?

Ceci n’est pas une pomme (This Is Not an Apple, 1898) by Rene Magritte.

What do you wish you knew?

To understand people, I wish I knew different languages such as Chinese, Italian, Portuguese and dialects, the ones of Northern and Southern France.

What should change?

Poverty in the world. Injustice.

What should stay the same?

Some landscapes, some children’s smiles …

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

Finding ways other than photography and cinema to capture fragile instants – as substitutes for memory.

What music are you listening to?

Nowadays, no music.

What are you reading?

I read with difficulty but, when I do, I read books about artists: long-form texts on Niki de Saint Phalle or Miquel Barceló, for instance.

Born in 1928 in Ixelles, Belgium, Agnès Varda is a filmmaker, photographer, artist, writer and actor based in France. To mark her 60-year career – her first feature-length film, La Pointe Courte, was released in 1954 – she was awarded an honorary Palme d’Or at this year’s 68th Cannes Film Festival, only the fourth person to receive the accolade and the first woman. An exhibition of her photography, taken in Cuba two months before the missile crisis in 1962, is on view at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, until 1 February 2016.