writes a love letter
Dream Wife was formed by Rakel Mjöll, Bella Popadec and Alice Go, who met as art students in Brighton, and initially started the band as an art project, a parody of a girlband. Since then they've gone on to release 2 critically acclaimed albums, and their feminist, political pop punk has earned them a legion of passionate fans.
For Hook's Love Letter series, Rakel has written to the late Agnès Varda, the legendary French new wave director.
There I was 19 years old sitting in a movie theatre in Reykjavik at 9 in the morning with not a trace of a popcorn in sight, surrounded by an excited group of middle aged women who seemed to have signed up to a film course for fun. Not because their mothers had told them to pick a university subject, any subject and the choice came down to this or French. Young, not interested and not aware of my privilege of being able to have access to a free university education. Frankly I was upset about having been put on the waiting list in the music conservatory I had applied too. I hadn’t made a plan B.
So here we are plan B. The lights were dimmed, my hoodie zipped up to my chin and then your name appeared on the screen. Agnès Varda. The great observer. My first introduction to you and your work was presented to me that day. It was your short film L’Opéra-Mouffee (Diary of a pregnant woman). You took us by the hand as we followed your lead down the streets of this bustling shopping district in Paris. Who will notice a little pregnant woman with a camera in the streets? Maybe you dressed down to avoid catching anyone’s eye? Maybe you put on your father’s trench coat and resume your role of the private detective? The case was: human life. Something worth capturing. Something you yourself were creating.
The next day I arose early, curled my hair and exchanged the hoodie for a silk shirt, to meet you again at our usual time and place. Next up was Cléo de 5 á 7 and La Pointe Courte. At that time I knew it was a deep love that would last beyond this film course. I was sure of it. We, the class were introduced to other french new wave directors but really none of them compared to you. They weren’t doing what you were doing Agnès, not Goddard, Resnais nor Truffaut.
Life went on, the tutor moved on from the french new wave and my interest dwindled. But my love for you always stayed. It wasn’t just the films, it’s how you saw life and art. Knowing that the two were the same. Years later I was living in Brighton, England about to finish a university degree in the arts. I was rushing through the hallways late for my final lecture when I stopped in my tracks because I noticed a familiar bowl cut in the canteen. Your signature dip-dyed bowl cut, silver at the crown, burgundy in halo around your face. Could it be? Agnès Varda?
It was you. 88 years old and absolutely beautiful. You looked up, saw me and smiled. I managed to mutter the words:’ Agnès?’ - ‘yes?’ - ‘your films changed my life’. You just laughed and asked me for my name. Then you took my hand, led me into the university gallery where your assistants were setting up an exhibition about your work. You introduced me as your friend ‘Rachele’ and told me stories about each piece. We took a picture next to a wall of naked men, by your request. And then we said our goodbyes. As I walked into the elevator, I waited for the door to close to cry.
When I heard the news about your death, I wasn’t sad but instead thankful that you had lived. Fully lived. And for all these films you left behind for generations to come to relish.
Love you forever,