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Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor visited Eye

Cosmic Realism, the first retrospective of work by Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, is attracting attention. The makers visited Eye on 19 January for an extensive interview to discuss a new multi-sensory visual language, the twists and turns of the subconscious, and the microcosm inside our bodies. Excerpts from the interview, related to six films on the programme, are posted below.

By Eye Editors07 March 2024

© Maarten Nauw

7 Queens

Véréna Paravel (US/FR 2009)

Paravel walks beneath the elevated tracks of the No. 7 subway from Queens to Manhattan, in search of spontaneous encounters with a motley bunch of New Yorkers.

“When you are trained as an anthropologist, the one thing you learn first is that in order get to know people you have to spend a lot of time with them. I wanted to be provocative and see if I could do an anti-ethnographic film.”

Véréna Paravel

De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor (FR/US/CH 2022)

The camera explores the bowels of Paris hospitals, hovering over operating tables, observing a staff party, and diving deep inside the body.

“One’s body is the most intimate thing in one’s life. It is also the object from which one is most alienated and that causes most anxiety.”

Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Leviathan

Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor (US 2012)

Intense portrait of the sea, filmed on board a fishing cutter in the North Atlantic Ocean, where water, wind, gulls and fish merge to form a cosmic whole.

“Leviathan is the first truly cosmic film we’ve made. It’s a film about the sea, about humanity’s relationship to the sea, and the history and mythology of the sea.”

Lucien Casting-Taylor

Foreign Parts

Véréna Paravel & J.P. Sniadecki (US/FR 2010)

Immigrants survive on the fringes, the ‘iron triangle’, of a junkyard of dead cars in Willets Point, Queens, New York. A film about human resilience and inventiveness.

“The automobile is a sign of success, of richness, of freedom, of autonomy. [Foreign Parts is about] the American dream versus the version of the American dream from the perspective of the migrant.”

Véréna Paravel

Sweetgrass

Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Ilisa Barbash (US 2009)

Overwhelming portrait (bodycam) of cowboys who drive their sheep to the summer pasturelands of Montana, across mountain ranges and through canyons. The animal is paramount.

“As time went on we got more interested in not just the pastoral, sublime beauty of the landscape and the stupefying vision of 3000 head of sheep up in the mountains, but also in the cognitive lives of the sheep.”

Lucien Castaing-Taylor

somniloquies

Véréna Paravel & Lucien Castaing-Taylor (FR 2017)

1960s songwriter Dion McGregor articulates his dreams from the subconscious. The film footage reflects McGregor’s wildly racing, sometimes raw associations.

“We don’t have this one identity that we think is the one we need to put forward. We cross the spectrum of all human feelings, from love to sadness to anger. It’s all there inside.”

Véréna Paravel

Text: Eva Langerak
Interviews: Anna Abrahams
Camera and editing: Max Baggerman
Camera assistant: Colin Oord