Agnès Varda returns to Brussels

Hello everyone! I said it before, but I still think that if there is anything we Belgians can be proud of, it’s our belgian art. In my journey to learn more about belgian artists, Agnès Varda couldn’t be left out. When I was a student, her name was mentioned a few times in a course about visual art. I never saw her work in real life though, until now. There’s an exhibition in the Museum of Elsene/Ixelles called ‘Patates & companies’ (potatoes & company)!


What can you expect?

I very much appreciated the exhibition because it has a personal touch. Agnès Varda lived in Ixelles when she was a kid and you can feel that she still has a strong connection with the neighborhood, even though she left Belgium a long time ago. She is taking you back to her childhood by telling about the places she frequented with her mother, like the Flagey market and the ponds of Ixelles with the little duck house. Through the audio guide she tells about the objects in the room, which creates an even more personal bond. As the title says, the expo is also about potatoes. In a documentary she made in 2000, called ‘Les glaneurs et la glaneuse’, she shows how people collect potatoes that are left on the field after the harvest. La glaneuse refers to herself, as she is the one gathering film fragments of other people. The documentary itself isn’t shown in the museum, but this is where the potato idea comes from. There is a series of pictures of heart shaped potatoes that are in different states of decay. A beautiful heart shaped potato turns into a wrinkled skin at the end. Althought the subject is an every day object, there is something quite intimate about the pictures. It’s stunning how an ugly, rotten vegetable can be so beautiful.

12788757_10153859274159088_2072657233_oPatates coeurs, photographie, 2012

12787081_10153859275119088_610945173_oPatates coeurs, photographie, 2012

12789723_10153859274054088_1149221985_oLa Costume-Patate, 2003

And here’s Agnès Varda herself as a potato 🙂 ! She actually wore this outfit in 2003 at the art biennial in Venice!

Who is she?

Agnès Varda is a photographer and film maker, but she also made several art installations. I would subscribe her style as documentary realism. She uses a lot of still images in her films and the subjects are often people who seem to be left out in society. They say she also has a feminist point of view. Now that I’m thinking about it, she talked a lot about her mother and she enlarged an every day object that women used when knitting.

12768064_10153859294949088_1190269877_oTricotine, installation, 2016

Do you recognize it? I remember my mother had this when I was a kid. Nostalgia… Oh, and did I say that the artist is 87 years old?!

More info

I only showed you a little part of the exhibition, because I want to encourage you to visit the museum! If you do, it’s worth paying the extra 3€ for the audio guide because the quality is very good. The entrance fee is reasonable (max 8€), because you can also visit the permanent collection. The exhibition is open until 29/05/2016.

Agnès Varda on Artsy

Museum of Ixelles website

Header image: Cinq rêveurs, photographie, 2013



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