Les Jardiniers du Petit Paris
Through her window, Sophie films her neighbours tending a community vegetable garden as seasons pass by. At the same time, she reads passages from Tristes tropiques and regularly abandons her observation post to enter the frame, meet her neighbours, ask them to pose for filmed portraits.
“I hate voyages and explorers”, as Claude Lévi-Strauss warns the readers of his Tristes Tropiques. A warning that caused quite a stir given that his book looked back on his stay in Brazil and developed a reflection on his first anthropological experience among the Bororos, Nambikwaras and Tupi-Kawahibs. And, importantly, it was written in 1954–1955, fifteen years after his return. A matter of distance. How can we read this text today? What does it mean to read in the present? Thanks to Sophie Roger, we are safe and sound. For her first film, no distant expedition. Her anthropological gesture combines the inside and outside, what is said and what is seen. Where? In France, in a place known as “Little Paris”, a community garden is observed from a window. Outside: as seasons change, gardeners of all ages come and go, wait, pace up and down their furrows, bustle about and also have fun. Inside: a whispering voice reveals the book, chapter by chapter, in the confines of the invisible house, where we hear only discreet noises, the creak of footsteps in a stairway, the rustle of pages being turned, muffled snippets of music. The words from far away and yesterday resonate with the images of here and now. Far from the tropics, a gaze filled with wonder is being constructed. One that involves each of us cultivating our attention like a fragile plant, far from the monoculture foretold by the worried anthropologist.
Nicolas Féodoroff (FIDMarseille, 2010)
For many years, Sophie Roger has been creating a free and distinctive body of work, far from the Parisian limelight and commerce. Be it drawings or films, her work is rooted in the territory most familiar to her, a corner of the Pays-de-Caux just north of her birthplace. She lives and works here in the countryside, not far from the cliff. From this personal territory, her work constantly questions the elsewhere, the relationship with the other, whoever they may be: friends, neighbours, distant peoples, inhabitants of the past, the sick of today. (Cyril Neyrat)