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  • Belinda Keyte

Artist Research - Week 10: Sophie Calle

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle has developed a practice that relies on distinct narrative elements and often in combination of images with text. Her work often blurs the boundaries between the intimate and the public, reality and fiction, art and life. Whilst methodically orchestrating an outcome, or a ‘reality’ her works also leaves an allocated part to chance.

I am looking at ‘Take care of yourself’ which is 107 women’s (including one made from wood? and one feathers - a parrot it turns out) interpretation of a breakup letter Calle received by email. I think just the letter / text element but also the female (who were chosen for their profession or skills) response, or analysis makes this project relevant to my project.

The variety of mediums include photographic portraits, textual analysis, and filmed performances and responses range from disciplines including anthropology, criminology, philosophy, psychiatry, theatre, opera and soap opera and include responses from clairvoyant’s to a scientific study, a children’s fairytale to a Talmudic exegesis, among many others. I can see a scrabble board and a map and lots of written responses and both highly stylised videos and ones that look like straight readings of the letters.

What I love about this work (or idea, anyway) is how each take on this letter transforms it. Reading and re-reading it, performing it and following and analysing the emotions it contains and evokes.

It is also a book. I was not able to access much of the work except for the exhibition documentation but I was able to access the letter. And my response is a bit of confusion into what the letter writer is saying but also that I probably wouldn’t want an ongoing relationship with this person who seems to have a lot going on. And affairs without commitment are not really my thing anyway. If I liked this person enough to sleep with I would probably fall in love and get hurt. An affair to me is a compromise that I don’t feel warrants my investment in. Both time and emotionally. I would have loved to pour through other responses. I will have to buy the book yet that won’t give me full access to the number of video installations I see.

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