An Interview with Etienne Sandrin (Curator, Pompidou Centre)
The Future of Chris Marker
Q: Etienne, you were not just a curator of Chris Marker’s works, but you also produce your own films. What influence has Chris Marker had on you?
ES: I didn’t just work with Chris. I feel we became involved with each other on a personal level. I hold his opinions in high esteem, and in order to help him do what he wanted to do, I assisted him with his personal life. As his curator, I began to produce pieces that were based on films that Chris had made. It is not that we always worked together as co-producers. I would suggest an idea to him and, when we mutually agreed on it, we would produce a film. At this film festival, we will attempt to show Le dépays, a collection of photographs taken in Japan with accompanying text. At the beginning of the next year, we will hold a recitation event in Paris with Catherine Belkhodja who played the leading role in Chris Marker’s film Level Five (1996). In addition, I utilized Chris’ short films to create a piece of performance art. A dancer named Maroussia [Vossen], who Chris treated as if she was his own daughter, will perform it.
Q: What are your thoughts about Chris Marker’s stance on producing pieces in a variety of different media?
ES: Because Chris was the kind of person who had a huge amount of curiosity about anything new, I feel that of course it was natural for him to adopt any new type of media such as computers. But now, the problem of how to preserve these art pieces has arisen. In the realm of computer technology, in which computer systems are rapidly being updated, we must continue to do “technological follow-ups” to keep his pieces working. However, Chris had a slightly different perspective. When reflecting on a computer program that was apart of his [multimedia] installation piece called Zapping Zone (1990), Chris said, “If this program stops working, that is the end of the program’s life and we should leave it in that state.” That is to say he thought that computer programs have lives just like human beings have lives. That is a beautiful metaphor, I think.
Q: How do you think Chris Marker’s works will be passed on to the world at large?
ES: I think that even more than the influence that Chris Marker’s works have had on the world, it is the way that Chris Marker lived his life that will become the more important contribution. He was such a wonderful role model and a paragon of how to think: I think he is a 20th or rather, a 21st century Leonardo da Vinci. There isn’t higher praise. His films have the attention of every generation. I have searched for new films made by young movie directors many times, but I don’t think there’s anyone out there making films that are ahead of what he’s already done. I don’t think anyone has yet surpassed him. In order for the younger generation to make his works their own, they will have to have a curiosity for the world, to search the world, look at it and criticize the world. They will have to observe the world. This kind of attitude is what is ultimately important.
(Compiled by Iida Yukako)
Interviewers: Iida Yukako, Nomura Yukihiro / Interpreter: Fukuzaki Yuko / Translator: Justin-Jinich Leah
Photography: Kato Takanobu / Video: Kato Takanobu / 2013-10-12