Gender Equality and Sustainability: Agnès Varda’s Sustaining Legacy

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Istanbul Bilgi University

İstanbul Bilgi University is launching a series of annual events dedicated to the intersecting themes of gender equality and sustainability under various academic disciplines. This year’s event will consider the framework of film studies. The inspiration for this inaugural symposium comes from the tireless gleaner of images Agnès Varda, whose legacy of female subjectivity spans more than six decades, from her first film La Pointe Courte (1955) to her final documentary Varda par Agnès (2019). An opening event launching the series will be followed by a one-day symposium to mark the anniversary of Varda’s passing, taking place at İstanbul Bilgi University, March 27-28, 2020


In addition to her career-long interest in gender equality, sustainability has been a resonant theme in Varda’s work. This is particularly true of her recent documentaries and her foray into other visual arts at the turn of the century, a transition that coincides with her shift to digital media. The Gleaners and I (2000) considers the practice of gleaning as survival, as art, and as an approach to memory; further developing many of the themes in the film, Varda’s installation Patatutopia at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 moved her perspective from the big screen to the gallery space. From this period until her death, Varda’s work deals prominently with recycling, revisiting, and reframing objects as well as human experience. She has described her essay film The Beaches of Agnès (2008), for example, as “an Unidentified Flying Object,” or a collage assembled from pieces of her life as expressed through various media: photographs, found footage, artwork, and other objects. This same spirit of invention through collection and recollection infuses much of her life’s work, and reveals not only what Varda understood about gender and the world around her, but also why it is crucial to study these concepts through art.  Taking Varda as its focal point, this symposium aims to open many potential avenues of discussion on gender equality and sustainability, producing a timely intervention of wide interest to many scholarly fields and disciplines. The symposium will conclude with a roundtable contextualizing, highlighting, and framing these issues under the heading: Global Varda.

 KEYNOTE SPEAKERS // Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, Rutgers University, Associate Professor of English and Film.Dr. Flitterman-Lewis is a pioneering scholar and teacher of feminist cinema whose book To Desire Differently (1990, 1996) is among the earliest studies of Varda published in English, and whose scholarship has since continued to advance Varda studies worldwide. She is also a founding co-editor of both the feminist film journal Camera Obscura and the cultural studies journal Discourse.  // Homay King, Bryn Mawr College, Chair and Professor of History of Art and the Eugenia Chase Guild Chair in the Humanities.Dr. King is the author of Virtual Memory (2015), a groundbreaking study of digitality in contemporary art and cinema that includes Varda’s installations and late documentaries. Her scholarship draws on history, philosophy, and critical theory, and she is a current member of the Camera Obscura editorial collective. 

The symposium invites papers that situate the work and legacy of Agnès Varda around the themes of gender equality and sustainability. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
  • female agency in narration 
  • recycling, revisiting, and reframing 
  • on-screen / off-screen
  • the gaze, desire and intimacy
  • analog/digital and visceral
  • reality, virtuality and memory 

 Please submit an abstract (max 300 words), 3-5 bibliographical sources, 3-5 keywords, and a short CV by December 1, 2019. The selected abstracts for the symposium will be announced by December 15, 2019.  Abstracts selected for presentation will be published online prior to the symposium. Full papers selected for publication will be announced after the symposium. The symposium language is English. All presentations must be delivered in English, in person by the selected participants. No virtual presentations will be considered, and no simultaneous translation will be provided. 

Contact person: Ms. Nilüfer Arslan, nilufer.arslan [at] bilgi.edu.tr 

Organizing Committee
  • Prof. Feride Çiçekoğlu, İstanbul Bilgi University, Director, Master Program in Film and Television
  • Prof. Aslı Tunç, İstanbul Bilgi University, Faculty of Communication
  • Prof. Zuhal Ulusoy, İstanbul Bilgi University, Dean, Faculty of Architecture
  • Prof. Pınar Uyan, İstanbul Bilgi University, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Tolga Yalur, PhD Candidate & Teaching Fellow, George Mason University, Cultural Studies
  • Asst. Prof. Colleen Kennedy-Karpat, İ. D. Bilkent University (Ankara), Department of Communication and Design