Along The Coast

Exploring the French Riviera through the lens of Agnès Varda's 'Du côté de la côte' (1958). A sociological journey through the coastal landscape of the 50s, in a visual dialogue with some of my shots from the early 2000s.

Along The Coast –in French Du côté de la côte (1958)– is a fascinating document of the 50s leisure time directed by Agnès Varda, the New Wave French filmmaker. Commissioned by the French Tourist Office, the short film paints a witty vision of the Côte d’Azur as a place of Eden, with coastal landscapes made up of tourists, Art Nouveau palaces and gardens.
Varda takes the viewer on a playful journey from Nice to Saint-Tropez where the beach –filled up with summer vacationers– becomes the ground of a sociological investigation, a place where the habits and trends of the time are on full display.

The short film prompted us to browse through my archive of photos taken in the South of France in the early 2000s, curious to see what society looked like four decades later.
Here is a selection of what we found, looking forward to showing more on this soon, as the work of digitization of my archive continues.

Watch the full documentary Du côté de la côte (1958) in streaming here, here or here.

“First of all: I don’t love the Coast. To get interested in it, I had to find a subject.
Du côté de la côte is a sociological essay.
The Coast is not a place, but a sociological phenomenon. It was about finding an explanation: why the Coast, when there are so many other equally wonderful places? For me, the film is an essay on tourism, at one of its focal points.
When I saw it that way, I was passionate about it. As I asked myself the question, I looked for the reasons, true reasons, bizarre reasons, false reasons.”
– Agnès Varda, 1961 1

For those intrigued by the recurring theme of the beach in cinematography and photography, I recommend checking out this blog post specially written by Bianca Greco, curator of Archivio Balneare on Instagram.2

1. English translation from: Cinéma, n. 60, 1961.

2. Archivio Balneare is a photographic and audiovisual archive on Instagram that aims to collect images with a focus on the beach, showing how it has been represented in media and visual arts through time. Read More in this blog post.

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