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hervé cohen
hervé cohen
10/12/2020 - 12/12/2020

Talk with Hervé Cohen and Luísa Santos

Award-winning artist Hervé Cohen discusses new forms of telling stories in documentary films with curator Luísa Santos. Starting from Life Underground, a transmedia project with an interactive web documentary and immersive installation, the french artist invites participants to join the Zoom conversation, where they will have an active role in choosing the stories and themes to cover. 

Hervé Cohen is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer and has traveled the world to capture compelling stories: from the Amazon, filming a musical poetic piece about environment, to the countryside of China, following the work of three traveling projectionists; Senegal, capturing the initiation ceremony of a young Diola; the entire United States, filming a family road movie during the Democratic Primaries; Benin, West Africa, following the life of a 7 year old girl over the course of 12 years of her school life, for the PBS series Time for School; and of course Paris (where he is originally from), filming a personal story about the exile of the Algerian Jews. He has also shot two feature narratives, in San Francisco and in Haiti. One of them, Ayiti Mon Amour, was contender for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars.

Luísa Santos has a Ph.D in Culture Studies by the Humboldt & Viadrina School of Governance, in Berlin, and M.A. in Curating Contemporary Art by the Royal College of Art, in London. Luísa Santos is an independent curator and an Assistant Researcher, in Culture Studies / Artistic Studies, since 2019 at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. Between 2016 and 2019, she was Assistant Professor, with a Gulbenkian Professorship, at the Faculty of Human Sciences of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. She is a research fellow at The European School of Governance (EUSG), in Berlin, since 2019. In 2013 she conducted research in curatorial practices at the Konstfack, in Stockholm. Researcher at the CECC, she is the director of the 4Cs: from Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture. Luísa Santos sits in the editorial and scientific boards of the peer-reviewed magazines Estúdio, Gama, and Croma and of the Yearbook of Moving Image Studies (YoMIS - Research Group Moving Image Kiel), Büchner-Verlag. Luísa Santos also collaborates in the Arts-based participatory research approach: Potential for exploring Asian-Canadian youth identities through an intersectionality lens, a research project coordinated at the York University. Her main areas of research are contemporary art and social systems. She has authored various publications in the domains of art and society.

Life Underground
Created by Hervé Cohen

Nominated for an IDA Award (“Best short form series”)
Beneath the surface, we're all connected

Life Underground invites visitors on a journey through the subways of the world and into the personal stories of their passengers. Shot in over 18 cities around the world so far, Life Underground captures the pulse of these vibrant environments and the millions of people who pass through them every day. By documenting passengers’ stories of love, dreams, family, migration, and much more, Life Underground reminds us that beneath the surface, we’re all connected. This project has been developed as an interactive web documentary and an immersive installation for museums and public spaces. The installation was inaugurated in the Los Angeles Metro, and presented at South by Southwest Festival and at the National Museum of Singapore. Selected at several international festivals, Life Underground won Best Documentary Award at Rio WebFest, Brazil, and Melbourne WebFest, Australia; it also received the Silver Award for best Documentary at La Baule Video share festival, France; and was nominated for an International Documentary Association Award in the Best Short Form Series category.

Music is an important element of the Life Underground project. Brian Rodvien collaborated on the project by creating musical compositions made out of the raw sounds of subways which were recorded during the shooting. Just as Life Underground uncovers beauty in subways of the world, it also offers the ability to hear music from sounds of subways, with melodies and rhythms based on sounds of wheels on the tracks, announcements in different languages, beeps, noises of trains speeding, etc.

Project Cast & Credits:
Hervé Cohen: Creator and director
Laurence Milon: Producer
Brian Rodvien: Music composer
Tonian Irving: Collaborating artist and installation producer
Maria Júdice (Indigo Impact): Producer
Jérôme Pidoux: Web project designer
Benjamin Grillet: Web coder
Hervé Cohen: Cinematographer and editor
Bertrand Sart and Yeelen Cohen: Editors
Corinne Vernizeau: Translation coordinator
Romain Pierrat: Color correction
Jean-Marc Schick: Sound mix

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