Using letters from famous visitors to Paris - Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Rainer Maria Rilke - the magical image of the city of lights is linked to that of a banal consumerism. A visual essay about the experience of observing and being observed in a Paris with many faces.
At the request of Antwerp’s 1993 Cultural Capital of Europe, Jef Cornelis received an opportunity to produce the film Voyage à Paris. Using letters from famous visitors to Paris - Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Cyriel Buysse, Alphonse Daudet, Sébastien Mercier, Henry Miller, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emile Zola and Guillaume Appolinaire - the image of the "city of lights" is interwoven with the history of salesmanship and purchase of "commodities" - from the old or "modern" approach to the merchandising of the present. Through the function of the "modern" approach to the relationship between salesman and consumer, the enticing Parisian passageways are examined in great detail. A visual essay on observing and being observing, fashion and consumerism and the fabulous fascination we continue to harbor for Paris.
‘He is constantly cutting away the “realistic” roots of the film images. He doesn’t touch the images themselves, but abstracts and stylizes them, scraping away their documentary nature. Never entirely, but just enough to let the images slip away from realism. The principle may be easy to understand, but its subtle application, the ever-changing nuances in the relationship between sound and image, holds you spellbound throughout the essay’s fifty minutes.’
‘It’s visual-poetic pleasure of the first order. For connoisseurs, but also perfect for beginners: how to evoke, without a single electronic trick, wonderful nuances across ordinary contemporary film images; how to learn a lot, without a single didactic moment.’