VALIE EXPORT and Agnès Varda both made moving-image installations about ping pong (EXPORT’s 1968 Ping Pong and Varda’s 2006 “Ping Pong, Tong, et Camping”), a subject each returned to on multiple occasions in subsequent works across different media forms. Apprehending ping pong as a cinematic thing and gesture, this essay considers how EXPORT and Varda, each in her own way, unsettle and expand the rules of the game in ways shaped by their distinct, and distinctly feminist, politics. This essay explores these works and the artists’ repeated returns to ping pong by staging a “volley,” alternating between different scenes and iterations across Europe and the US, from the 1960s to the 2010s. Additional works discussed include EXPORT’s 1980s television documentary on avant-garde film, The Armed Eye, and Varda’s final two documentaries, Faces Places (2017) and Varda by Agnès (2019).

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