Le Dépays [inscribed]
by Chris Marker
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Paris: Éditions Herscher, 1982. First edition. 8vo (22x16cm). Unpaginated 80pp. Grey boards in illustrated dust jacket. Text in French. Dust jacket slightly toned, with minor edge wear. Inscribed by Chris Marker. Very scarce in near fine condition.
Just a few month before the release of Sans Soleil in 1983, Chris Marker published Le Dépays, which can be considered as prologue to Sans Soleil. With three short texts and numerous photographs, Chris Marker presents another journey through his memories of Japan, revealing further perspectives on the film‘s themes.
Marker strolls through Tokyo with his camera to explore Japan, or, as he says, to invent it in the process. To approach and understand Japanese culture, he uses the theme of cats, which is reflected in both his texts and photographs.
On his journey, Marker encounters the famous fortune cat Maneki-Neko and the lesser known witch cat Bake-Neko. In the beginning of Le Dépays, Marker’s advices the reader that, “the text doesn’t comment on the images any more than the images illustrate the text. They are two sequences that clearly cross and signal to each other, but which it would be pointlessly exhausting to collate”.
This very scarce first edition of Le Dépays is inscribed by Chris Marker, in which he references the Bake-Neko:
“For Edith – A BAKE NEKO IF I EVER SAW ONE”
Marker was particularly fond of the Bake-Neko, which belongs to the traditon of Japanese doppelganger fairy tales, in which a cat turns into a woman. The process is always the same; a man is killed and a cat who witnessed the murder transmits its spirit onto a woman’s body. In whichever version of the fairy tale, there is a moment when the woman begins to mix her behavior with the behaviour of the cat, and in the end this woman becomes an instrument of vengeance.