Three short films in Perpignan

Collection Institut Jean Vigo

Perpignan - France

The Institut Jean Vigo was set up in Perpignan in 1981 by a group of enthusiasts whose work in this field goes back to 1965 when they organized the Confrontations film festival. Today, the Institut holds 5 000 films and a notable non-film collection of 56 000 posters, as well as periodicals and other records. The Institut Jean Vigo officially became a 'European regional film archive' in 2006 and a member of the FIAF the following year. Since 2010, as part of the Mémoire filmique Pyrénées-Méditerranée project, the Institut collects an increasing number of amateur films made in French Catalonia and the historic province of Languedoc, which can be viewed at screenings or online.

Thanks to regional financial support from DRAC Occitanie, the Institut Jean Vigo also gives artists the opportunity to work with the archives, to render their vision of the amateur film collections via new works that are shared with the public.

In 2017, the project of Étienne Noiseau, a sound artist and radio critic, was selected. He writes that he was first struck by images that were "silent by default", "faces without voices, celebratory scenes without music and song, and none of the sounds that provide atmosphere".

Étienne Noiseau then went to meet with the families who had given their films to the Institut Jean Vigo to "find lost soundtracks for these films". He recorded the spontaneous reactions of close family members as they viewed the films made by their amateur filmmaker relatives. With this material, he made three short films relating the relationship they have today with old family images. Disparitions (6 min 18) explores the troubling feelings aroused when images of a since deceased relative are viewed, a feeling of life's fragile nature. Pêche à l’art (5 min 40) focuses on a 16 mm film describing the stages in traditional Catalan fishing with an explanatory commentary given by the filmmaker's son. Oublis (5 min 54) underscores how mysterious these images can be even to the author's children.

All three films can be viewed free of charge online:

In 2015, the residency was awarded to artist Lise Fischer who was inspired by the 9.5 mm films made by her great-grandfather showing her grandmother, then seven years old, as she climbed the Mont Canigou. Lise Fischer produced a work that was protean in form. An exhibition, shown to INEDITS members at their Annual Meeting in Perpignan, involved light installations and work on the image as material. Her experience also produced a film, Lumières fossiles (14 min), showing her grandmother, now aged 85, ascending the Canigou, with images from the 1930s films projected onto the older woman's body and the mountain rocks she is once again climbing.

In 2018, a new residency is underway. The Institut Jean Vigo now hosts Catalina Rodriguez Gutierrez, a visual arts student at the Université de Montpellier. We look forward to seeing her work at the end of the year!

Julie Guillaumot (translation from french : Elaine Briggs)