CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 4/12/2017
French conceptual artist Sophie Calle finally gets her due in America, with a forthcoming show at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture in San Francisco, a 25-year project at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn and a major profile in 'T Magazine' this weekend, running alongside a feature that thrills us to the core — a portrait of the artist through her books. Mary Kaye Schilling writes:
"Over the course of her 38-year-long career, Sophie Calle has established herself as one of France's most celebrated conceptual artists. In her work, she has attempted to metaphorically seduce her father; she once asked 107 women to respond to an ex-boyfriend's breakup email; and for a story in T's culture issue, the 63-year-old artist showed up to have her portrait taken pregnant — pregnant with a cat. Here, a short list of the eccentric artist's best book projects." Read more below.
THE ADDRESS BOOK
Calle — who makes the private public, turning intimate details (her own and others’) into art — has a sticky reputation for invasive voyeurism, and it started here. After finding a lost address book, she interviewed friends and family of the owner, identified as “Pierre D.,” creating a remarkably poignant and tender portrait of a man she would never meet. Published without his permission in the French newspaper 'Liberation' in 1983, to great controversy, Calle agreed not to republish the project until after his death, which she did — and only in English — in 2012. (Siglio)
Calle is often likened to a detective for her fictional constructs and methodical investigations, and that provocative inclination was first explored in 1988’s “Suite Vénitienne,” a record, in time-stamped entries, of her surveillance of one ‘‘Henry B.,’’ a stranger she surreptitiously follows through the streets of Venice. (Siglio)
Calle’s books are projects unto themselves and may or may not overlap with exhibitions. “True Stories,” which brings together works from the ’90s to the present, is an ongoing sort of autobiography, first published in 1999 and updated in 2012. Each tale, none longer than a page, offers a poetic fragment of Calle’s life, through text and photo, and covers favorite subjects — childhood, love, sex and death — with her trademark mix of melancholy and dry wit. (Actes Sud)
The theme of absence is present in all of Calle’s work. Here, she resurrects memories of paintings missing, lost or stolen at various museums, including, most notably, the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston. Through interviews with employees and others familiar with the works, Calle creates vivid portraits — of both the individuals and what has disappeared from their lives. (Actes Sud)
Calle’s fondness for games and their strict rules is showcased in this delightfully meta project, which springs from Paul Auster’s novel “Leviathan” and its fictional artist Maria, whose work is based on Calle’s. In the three parts of “Double Game,” Calle creates the “work” of Maria; presents her own seminal work, appropriated by Maria in “Leviathan”; and asks Auster to instruct her for a site-specific piece in New York. Calle’s first book published in English in 1999, it quickly sold out. (Violette Editions)
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Calle’s twin obsessions, love and loss, propelled this 2007 project: After a former boyfriend broke up with her via email — with the blithe signoff "take care of yourself" — Calle processed her grief by asking 107 women to coolly analyze the document according to their profession (actor, lawyer, scientist and more). As often happens with her work, dispassionate methods yield deeply moving results. (Dis Voir/Actes Sud)
The story of Calle’s mother, Monique Szyndler, who died in 2007, is told through excerpts from Monique’s diary and family album photographs. It’s a highly personal work of mourning that manages to be universal in its evocation of the emotionally complex mother-daughter relationship. (Editions Xavier Barral)
Three works of Calle’s, over 24 years, have been devoted to blindness. In each, the artist photographed different groups of blind people and asked a particular question, such as their definition of beauty. The results, published together here, offer reflections on absence, on the loss of one sense and its compensation by another, and on the idea of the visible and the invisible. (Actes Sud)
Continue to T Magazine to read the rest of Sophie Calle, in Books.
EDITIONS XAVIER BARRAL
Clth, 6.75 x 9.5 in. / 208 pgs / 38 color / 57 b&w.
$75.00 free shipping