aladdin’s cave

a review of Colin MacCabe’s Perpetual Carnival and Studio

Studio is subtitled ‘Remembering Chris Marker’, but as Ben Lerner writes in his introduction, ‘how do you memorialize an artist who refused to remain identical to himself?’ Marker wasn’t even called ‘Chris Marker’: born Christian Hippolyte François Georges Bouche-Villeneuve, his place of birth has been disputed (he often claimed to come from Mongolia) and he worked under numerous pseudonyms. And despite his extensive network of contacts, he was also a lifelong recluse, whose ‘ultimate taboo,’ MacCabe tells us, was that ‘he could not appear in public alongside his works.’ Marker—who famously said, ‘my films are enough’—rarely consented to be photographed, a problem for which Studio finds a beautiful solution. Bartos provides ten full-colour snapshots of Marker’s apartment-cum-studio in Paris’s 20th arrondisement—a working environment MacCabe describes as somewhere between ascetic ‘monk’s cell’ and eccentric ‘Aladdin’s cave.’ Bartos’s photos show us a studio without an artist—a space strangely pregnant with expectation, in which ‘Marker will forever be almost right back.’

read the rest in the Times Literary Supplement, March 2018