AGNES VARDA’S TWO FILMS ABOUT GLEANING – originally gathering the useful remnants of the crop after harvesting) are being screened in Melbourne on Sunday 13 July at 2.30 pm and 4.15 pm at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Federation Square, Melbourne.
They may be of interest to collectors interested in the idea of collecting. While the starting point is foraging for food, there are references to collecting other types of leftovers of modern life.
The documentaries are called ‘The Gleaners and I’ and ‘The Gleaners and I Two Years After’. Wikipedia gives the following information:
The film tracks a series of gleaners as they hunt for food, knicknacks, thrown away items, and personal connection. Varda travels the French countryside as well as the city to find and film not only field gleaners, but also urban gleaners and those connected to gleaners, including a wealthy restaurant owner whose ancestors were gleaners. The film spends time capturing the many aspects of gleaning and the many people who glean to survive. One such person is the teacher named Alain, an urban gleaner with a master’s degree who teaches French to immigrants.
Varda’s other subjects include artists who incorporate recycled materials into their work, symbols she discovers during her filming (including a clock without hands and a heart-shaped potato), and the French laws regarding gleaning versus abandoned property. Varda also spends time with Louis Pons, who explains how junk is a “cluster of possibilities.”
This extract from the website – Senses of cinema – may explain another angle of the film which makes it of interest to collectors:
One major way Varda expands the parameters of her subject is by making constant reference to paintings and other artworks, both as illustrations of gleaning’s historic past (paintings by Millet and Van Gogh) and as creative examples of gleaning in the present (sculptures, collages and so on made from found materials). Nor is this latter kind of creation restricted to officially accredited artists, as Varda demonstrates through an interview with a man who builds “totem towers” from discarded dolls (“Dolls are my system,” he explains). In general, one of the film’s most appealing features is its democratic treatment of its interview subjects, who range from gypsies and unemployed young people to a magistrate and a psychotherapist: they’re all respected equally, and Varda lets them speak for themselves without passing judgement.
Dr Geoff Crawford says
Did gleaners morph into tip scroungers over time. My great Uncle George Crawford lived in North Melbourne in a small low ceilinged worker’s cottage. He scrounged the North Melbourne tip and had a treasure trove of goods in his back shed! This would have been the early 1960s that I remember. When we visited he would let us take one item. I remember flat tinplate printed sheets with ads and lids for things like boot polish tins, shotgun ammunition, piles of cutlery and more. The tinplate sheets would be fantastic now but sadly long gone.
My best item was a buggy whip that I terrorised the geraniums with. On the same day my cousin was given a wooden bowling pin. He is still upset that I got the whip.
Now I think back Uncle George’s shed either started me off as a collector or established my latent collecting passions.
Producer, Antiques with Attitude