Delphine Seyrig, fighting star


It is an exhibition that restores a feeling of excitement, the one Delphine Seyrig must have experienced just after 1968, when she believed that it was not only possible to change the world, but that it was inconceivable to to go through life without trying to transform it. As we know, Delphine Seyrig's filmography is exceptional because of the coherence of her choices and the importance of the filmmakers who worked with her – Resnais, Buñuel, Truffaut, Demy, Duras, Akerman and others. And we know just as much, the actress has created many pieces of writers at the time almost unknown. But the high quality and originality of the exhibition the unassuming Muses, around the figure of Delphine Seyrig is that it is neither hagiographic nor mythifying. Here, the actress is considered as a vector of collective struggles, a woman invested in all the battles of her time, feminism of course, but also the antipsychiatry – she is passionate about it when she embodies in the film Liliane de Kermadec Aloïse Corbaz, this figure of art brut, interned at the asylum in 1920 – the fight of prisoners in French prisons, that of prostitutes – the list is not exhaustive.

The exhibition is thematic, each room bears a title that alone evokes the era – "Undoing the Diva", "Practices of the Insubstances", "Transnational Struggles". And each one of them is organized around videos taken most often on the spot, Carole Roussopoulos being with Jean-Luc Godard the first to equip the Portapak of Sony. By animating her workshops to learn how to film and edit video, the videographer meets Delphine Seyrig, who is registered. With Iona Wieder, they will create all three in 1982 the center Simone de Beauvoir, many of the exhibition's archives come from. Of course, we will say that some of them are available on the Web. But grouped and seen in their entirety, they take a whole other thickness and impress by their side all fire and their diversity. The exhibition is an opportunity to see the whole hilarious Maso and Miso go by boat where the three insoumuses Delphine Seyrig, Nadja Ringart, and Carole Roussopoulos interrupt a show hosted by Bernard Pivot entitled Another day and the year of the woman, phew, it's over by cartons and deconstruct, ardently and with humor, the macho speeches held on the set.


The film is rhythmic, removed, singular, artisanal. More unfinished and flatter may seem the documentary Be beautiful and stop talking, that Delphine Seyrig shot in 1975, when she went to meet her colleagues – Maria Schneider, Jane Fonda, Marie Dubois among others – to question them at the same time on the characteristics of female characters in films whose scenarios are written by men and the physical transformations required by the majors. As topical as it is, the film deserves to be recontextualized if only by indicating who expresses itself in front of the camera – even if the monotonous succession of remarks makes resurgence the bitterness and sagacity of certain words – those of Maria Schneider and Jane Fonda in particular. The other rarity is also Scum Manifesto, around the manifesto of Valerie Solanas, who calls for the eradication of men, a film also difficult to see, where Delphine Seyrig and Carole Rossopoulos invent a device.

Even if she denies herself to be around the star Seyrig, the exhibition shows a quantity of archival records that are rarely or never seen, which concern her first and foremost. Emotion to notice a picture where already on the set of last year in Marienbad Alain Resnais, in 1960, Delphine Seyrig puts his eye on the camera. Pleasure to decipher a letter sent to her parents during her decade of galley in the United States, before she breaks into the cinema: "I think I know quite well these gentlemen of France – Barrault, Vilar, and even the very serious ones, to suspect that a season in Hollywood impresses them on my part, and if I want to do things in Paris, consider less superior, and I will play them comedy. " But the most unpublished documents are around the never-ending film project of the actress on Calamity Jane's letters to her daughter. The exhibition recreates storyboard pages drawn by his son Duncan Youngerman and rushes of Babette Mangolte, when the actress left for Montana in the footsteps of Calamity Jane's presumed daughter. It shows a conversation staged between them two. The Lebanese poetess Etel Adnan, whose handwritten pages are written on the script, should have written the script on an explosive mother-daughter bond.

Paradoxical figure

The abundant exposure does not completely avoid the sacralization even if the video support with these faded hues and the uncertain definition of the images contribute to it clearly. It brings up the paradoxical figure of the antistar actress – who is a way of being, star – smiling and irony sometimes chilling and who in any case imposes a distance, and always in empathy with the causes that inhabit. She also portrays Delphine Seyrig as a truly courageous woman, not afraid to displease and choose the margin, at the risk of making her career more hypothetical. Too bad the sounds sometimes overlap.

The rebellious Muses, until September 22, in co-production with the Reina Sofia Museum of Madrid and in collaboration with the Simone-de-Beauvoir Audiovisual Center. At the LaM, in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, 1 alley of the museum.

Anne Diatkine


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