In the Presence of Agnes Varda


“Do you like my boots?”

“Of course,” I replied.

“Why thank you.”

I had not imagined a week of Agnes Varda being comprised of shoes, chocolates, and pears. But that is how it went.

Here in Philadelphia for a week of screenings, conversations, master-classes, and symposiums, Agnes Varda strolled through the city in her purple tunic and flower-printed cane. Her mere presence was the most extraordinary of it all. So used to seeing the world through her eyes, we were now looking into them.

During the week Varda spoke of her memories of Chris Marker, showing off that wonderful studio in which everything was saved and nothing forgotten. She spoke of the trajectory of her art – beginning as a photographer, becoming a filmmaker, and now being an artist. Memories, reflections, and time thread through her words, wisdom spewing out in that way only elders can spew, speaking wonders in the form of questions that fill us 20 year-olds with the inspiration we need to keep at it.

She holds up a strawberry close to my face. It is shiny, voluptuous, perfectly red. She says, “This is beautiful, yes. But it has no flavor at all. No flavor.”

She holds up a sliver of bosc pear, that brownish-yellow color exuding no sexiness whatsoever. “Now this,” she says, “Is wonderful.”

I hand her another plate full of pears.