In the early 1960s, Agnès Varda traveled to Cuba to make the documentary Salut les Cubains (1963). Varda’s twenty-eight-minute film, composed almost entirely of photographs that captured Cuba’s vibrant postrevolutionary culture, was inspired by two of Chris Marker’s films—Varda took her subject from Marker’s documentary Cuba sí! and her technique from La Jetée. Now, more than a half century since Varda’s time in Havana, the photographs she took for Salut les Cubains are the subject of Varda/Cuba, an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Varda had never intended these images, discovered in her archive by Pompidou curator Clément Chéroux, to be displayed in a gallery setting, and here they’re shown along with her documentary, which plays on a loop in the main exhibition area.
In an article published recently in the Guardian, Varda described her approach to the film. “I was not at all politicized,” she said. “I like being curious, and to learn from people . . . I tried to discover everything about Cuba by just being there.” Varda/Cuba is on view in Paris through January, and you can read more about Varda’s experience making the film here.