Sophie Calle, Photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, courtesy the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Currently on view, through October 24th, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark is a new exhibition from Sophie Calle. One of France’s most well known contemporary artists, Calle has most recently made her imprint on New York with her 2009 exhibition at the Paula Cooper Gallery with “Take Care of Yourself,” a body of work created for the French Pavilion of the 2007 Venice Biennale.
Organized by Whitechapel Gallery, London in collaboration with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in Tilburg, Holland, Louisiana Contemporary: Sophie Calle presents a number of playful works from 1979-2009, which blur the line between art and reality. Dabbling in adult affairs with the demeanor of an innocent, playing child, Calle often takes on the role of an undercover detective. Her conceptual works entice viewers with undertones of voyeurism, humour and subtlety.
More text and images after the jump…
Curated by Mette Marcus, this exhibition offers a look at some of the artist’s most well-known works that play with the human perception of reality and mix the private with the collective. Often draw on journalism, anthropology or psychoanalysis, her works take their point of departure in literature, the diary or the photo-novel.
Some of the works on view include The Sleepers (1979), in which the artist lends her own bed to both acquaintances and strangers to photograph them while asleep. Couldn’t Capture Death (2007) follows her mother’s last minutes on film. Other works shown include: The Address Book (1983/2009), Anatoli (1984), and Souci (2009). The Louisiana’s own work Where and When? Berck (2004/2008), which the museum acquired for the collection in 2008, will also be shown.
For her exhibition Take Care of Yourself, Calle invited a wide variety of women, including a ballet dancer, a lawyer, a police officer, a lawyer, and well known actresses, to use their various professional skills to give their interpretations of an e-mail where the artist’s lover ends their relationship. The results are poetic, touching and humorous statements which together form a significant installation.
Sophie Calle, Etoile dancer at the Opéra de Paris, Marie-Agnès Gillot, Detail from “Take care of yourself,” 2007. Image courtesy ADAGP Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris/Miami; Arndt & Partner, Berlin/Zürich; Koyanagi, Tokyo; Paula Cooper Gallery, NY.
Sophie Calle, Headhunter, Christiane Cellier, Detail from “Take care of yourself,” 2007. Image courtesy ADAGP Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris/Miami; Arndt & Partner, Berlin/Zürich; Koyanagi, Tokyo; Paula Cooper Gallery, NY.
Sophie Calle, Public writer, Rafaèle Decarpigny, Detail from “Take care of yourself,” 2007. Image courtesy ADAGP Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris/Miami; Arndt & Partner, Berlin/Zürich; Koyanagi, Tokyo; Paula Cooper Gallery, NY.
Sophie Calle, School Teacher, Laure Guy, Detail from “Take care of yourself,” 2007. Image courtesy ADAGP Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris/Miami; Arndt & Partner, Berlin/Zürich; Koyanagi, Tokyo; Paula Cooper Gallery, NY.
In her profile of the artist for The New York Times’s T Magazine, Daphne Merkin ponders, “[Is she] a genuine original who has converted the stasis of visual art into the ongoing drama of literary narrative, creating a kind of three-dimensional writing? Or is she perhaps simply an inspired exhibitionist who has been mining her life over the past 25 years as material for loosely conceptualized, viewer-friendly installations…?” She continues, “Hers is a very contemporary instance of personal mythologizing, of using the material of her own life as paradigmatic. Her art bears the traces of other influences (Vito Acconci,Cindy Sherman, Orlan and Christian Boltanksi, to name a few) yet manages in its deliberate and singular accessibility to resound with the inner performative self in all of us. At the same time, she is as an embodiment of the postmodern instinct to de-authenticate and expose, showing up her own — and, by implication, our — reality as no more than a simulacrum.”
Although Rosalind Krauss anointed Calle as “true avant-garde,” not everyone is a fan of Calle’s. As Merkin notes, “New York Times art critic Roberta Smith is both intrigued and put off by Calle’s work, characterizing it as ‘irksomely French’ and finding it ‘intense and charged’ at times and derivative or dated at others’…” Stephen Bayley, a critic for The Observer in London, comments that ‘’her obsessiveness is in itself something remarkable, but I’m not convinced of what aesthetic value it has. It’s probably more in the territory of mental disorder than art.” The New Yorker’s art critic, Peter Schjeldahl, also writes her off: “I’ve never been a fan of her art, as art. It’s derivative of conceptual and performance stuff of the ’70s.”
Born in 1953, Sophie Calle is the 2010 recipient of the Hasselblad Award, the highest honor in the field of photography. Her work has been shown in international venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Museum Boymans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo), among others.
Exhibition Site [Louisiana Museum of Modern Art]
I Think, Therefore I’m Art [T Magazine]
Sophie Calle: Stalker, Stripper, Sleeper, Spy [The Guardian]
Venice Biennale 2007: Intimations of Mortality [NY Times]
Visual Art Review: Sophie Calle at Whitechapel [The Guardian]
Art in Review: Sophie Calle “Exquisite Pain” [NY Times]
All This Might Never Have Happened [NY Times Book Review]