Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Palimpsest City


Ließe nicht ein passionierender Film sich aus dem Stadtplan von Paris gewinnen? aus der Entwicklung seiner verschiedenen Gestalten in zeitlicher Abfolge? aus der Verdichtung einer jahrhundertelangen Bewegung von Straßen, Boulevards, Passagen, Plätzen im Zeitraum einer halben Stunde? Und was anderes tut der Flaneur?

flaneur mindworldCouldn’t an exciting film be made from the map of Paris? From the unfolding of its various aspects in temporal succession? From the compression of a centuries-long movement of streets, boulevards, arcades, and squares into the space of half an hour? And does the flaneur do anything different?
– Walter Benjamin, Passagenwerk | The Arcades Project [C1,9]


Nichts ist schöner als Paris, wenn nicht die Erinnerung an Paris.
Chris Marker [q. Kämper/Tode, hg. Chris Marker: Filmessayist, Munich: CICIM, 1997, 8

Diagram from Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991, 211. Discovered at, embedded in a perceptive article by Anthony Auerbach.


  • A large part of Cohen’s work, and several of the films for which he is best known, could be loosely described as city portraits; impressions of the spaces and places that he has passed through and, in particular, his native New York. Cohen’s acclaimed film Lost Book Found (1996), which is one of his few works to have been screened in Australia, (1) was shot over a number of years on the streets of pre-Giuliani New York. Inspired by a period of time when Cohen worked as a push-cart vendor on the streets of New York, it meditates on a changing cityscape dictated by the demands of the dollar. The semi-fictional narrative reflects Cohen’s sentiment that after working on the street for some time he became invisible to passing people and, the film’s narration continues, ‘as I became invisible, I began to see things that had once been invisible to me’.

    Just Hold Still: A Conversation with Jem Cohen
    by Rhys Graham

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Recent Posts


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This