Sophie Calle

Sophie Calle Photo

Sophie Calle, born in 1953 is a French conceptual artist, installation artist, writer and photographer. She mixes image and text to provoke emotionally intense response typically stimulated by epic film or literature. Her most astounding works suggest human susceptibility, and examines intimacy and individuality.

After completing her education, she embarked on a seven year journey. In 1979, she returned to Paris and began many projects in order to be acquainted with the people and surrounding of Paris. She soon figured that observing the actions and behavior of strangers, provides information that helps in creating their identities. This was documented as photographs. In her work, the emphasis is on the idea rather that the finished piece. She works through the roots of conceptual art.

As a form of detective photography that is seen in her works, Calle met a man she saw at a party in Paris and she followed him to Venice in a disguise, photographing him. She identified the man as Henri B and the photographs were black and white, with text. The following year, The Sleepers was a project organized by Calle in which she requested 24 people to occupy her divan for eight days straight. She photographed them and served them food as well.

In 1981, she did two projects: The Shadow in which she was followed by a private detective hired by her mother on Calle’s request. The artist wanted to offer a photographic proof of her own existence. In the same year she executed The Hotel, a project in which Calle was hired in a hotel in Venice as a chambermaid where she explored objects and writings related to the guests.

Address Book, 1983 was among the first projects to gain public criticism and controversy.  Sophie Calle had accidently found a telephone number diary on the street which she used for her work. She called some people from the book and derived an imaginative sketch of the diary’s owner on the basis of what people said about him. However, when the work was published, the owner of the diary who happened to be a documentary maker, Pierre Baudry warned to sue Calle for privacy invasion.

In 1986, The Blind was another eminent project by Calle. She did a interview session with blind people and asked them to share their meaning of beauty. She accompanied photographs with their responses.

Sophie Calle released No Sex Last Night, a film in 1996 in collaboration with Greg Shepherd (American photographer). It was a documentation of their country cross trip in America, ending in a Las Vegas in a wedding chapel. Later in 1996, she exhibited Appointment, an installation made for the Freud Museum, London. In 2002, Calle spent a night in bed that was installed on the top of Eiffel Tower. The project was called Room with a View. In 2007, she displayed Take Care of Yourself, a piece titled after a line in a message left by her ex partner. It was an attempt to interpret the email of break up.

In 2008, Calle contributed to an exhibition in Mains d-Oeuvres in Paris, titled Système C, un festival de coincidence. In 2009, she had an important exhibition in which many of her projects were included, in London at the Whitechapel Gallery. In 2011, True Stories, her work was installed at the in New Orleans.

Sophie Calle is captivated with the boundary set  between people’s private lives and their public lives. This inquisition led her to study behavior patterns incorporating techniques generally used by private  detectives, forensic scientists and psychologists. She also usually examines her own behavior.


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