Beaches of Agnes: Feminist Icons Show the Way

March 25, 2010

After using Agnes Varda’s One Sings and One Doesn’t as a pun, or place-holder, in a recent post, how fun that Netflix delivered her recent autobiography, The Beaches of Agnes, to my house the very next day. I make it a habit to watch documentary portraits of women artists–Patti Smith Dream of Life, Our City Dreams, Writer of O, The Life and Work of Sally Mann, Lee Miller: Through the Mirror (as well as making my own, Women of Vision, I suppose)and better yet strive to meet them whenever I can, to support their work, and hear their voices (see recent post on Sheila de Bretteville). I look to them as I suppose younger women look to me: to have visualized (given the paucity of mainstream images) what we might become, what we might accomplish, how we do it: make art, live life, be political. You want to see if it can work (out).

Varda’s autobiography was especially useful as this kind of guide post in that, as a feminist filmmaker, her whole life seems to have been documented or made into film, and thus made re-seeable. Following her mellow lead, we get to watch with her as she watches the images that mark her watery passages from defiant youth to wise and wistful age, a laudable journey, proving it can be done: the feminist art, life, and always-learning.

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