The haunting story of Sophie Calle’s mother, told through diary excerpts and family photographs
“She was called successively Rachel, Monique, Szyndler, Calle, Pagliero, Gonthier, Sindler,” reads the first lines of Sophie Calle: Rachel Monique, embroidered on the cover. “My mother liked people to talk about her. Her life did not appear in my work, and that annoyed her. When I set up my camera at the bottom of the bed in which she lay dying—fearing that she would pass away in my absence, whereas I wanted to be present and hear her last words—she exclaimed, ‘Finally.’”
Sophie Calle: Rachel Monique tells the story of Monique Szyndler, Sophie Calle’s mother who died in 2007, through diary excerpts and photographs selected by the artist from family albums. Described as “haunting” and “a mystery novel that tirelessly searches for a missing person,” the Rachel Monique project honors a daughter’s complicated relationship with her mother and the artist’s deeply felt grief.
This volume, presenting Calle’s installation of Rachel Monique at the Palais de Tokyo, was designed in close collaboration with the artist. The cover text is embroidered to create a precious object, and all of the texts relating to the installation are beautifully embossed. Sophie Calle: Rachel Monique is a highly personal and moving book, intimate and universal in its expressions of mourning and memory.
Sophie Calle (born 1953) creates works exploring the tensions between the observed, the reported, the secret and the unsaid. She has mounted solo shows at major museums across the world and represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2007, where her film of her mother’s deathbed, Couldn’t Capture Death, premiered.