Calle is a French artist who works with photographs and performances,
placing herself in situations almost as if she and the people she encounters
were fictional. She also imposes elements of her own life onto public
places creating a personal narrative where she is both author and character.
She has been called a detective and a voyeur and her pieces involve serious
investigations as well as natural curiousity.
Calle made a piece called 'Suite Vénitienne' in which she followed
a man she had met at a party to Venice and continued to follow and photograph
him there for two weeks.
year later she returned to Venice where she got a temporary job as a chambermaid.
She made a piece of work about her imagined ideas of who the hotel guests
were, based on their personal belongings.
each room there was a photograph of the bed undone, of other objects in
the room, and a description day by day of what I found there." Sophie
Sophie Calle - The
Hotel; Room 46. 1986
Photograph from "La
Filature - The Shadow." 1981 (3)
works had involved me so much in the act of following that I wanted, in
a certain way, to reverse these relationships. So I asked my mother to
hire a private detective to follow me, without him knowing that I had
arranged it, and to provide photographic evidence of my existence."
work is very much tied up with a process. Her art unfolds as she goes
through each stage of preparation and execution. As she descibes (below),
the form of the final product - the thing which the gallery viewer actually
sees - is the least significant part.
'The Hotel' I spent one year to find the hotel, I spent three months going
through the text and writing it, I spent three months going through the
photographs and I spent one day deciding it would be this size and this
frame...it's the last thought in the process."
Filature - The Shadow
'The Shadow', (left) although Sophie Calle knew she would be followed
and photographed as she went about her daily life in Paris, she had no
idea which day the detective would be following her.
kept an itinerary of her own movements and wrote a description of what
happened each day as well as making a series of photographs of what she
two contrasting points of view of the same period of time - the detectives'
report and photos and her own diary and self-portaits - were exhibited
as the final piece of work.
has often written about her own life as if it were a fictional narrative
but she has also been featured as a character and her own art activities
have punctuated the narrative in "Leviathan", a novel by American
writer Paul Auster. More recently they have collaborated on another project
and publication 'Double Game/Gotham handbook'.
Calle, from La Visite
Guidée, 1996 (4)
I went to her house to find a memento of her, I chose the TV guide that
was still on a table by the television: her last issue of Tele Star. For
my grandmother and her home, life had stopped the week of the 16th to
the 22nd August, 1986."
Calle's work inhabits a space between fact and fiction. She crosses private
boundaries to explore the meanings which might be hidden there and exploits
public spaces, investing them with a sense of intimacy.
IMAGINE YOU ARE VISITING
EARTH FOR THE FIRST TIME....
Take a bus journey and notice your fellow passengers. Who do you think
they are? If you were to keep
a diary of everything you saw and everyone you encountered for 24hours,
including snatches of conversation, what would you write. Imagine how
that description might read a year later...