Go See – Berlin: Sophie Calle at Arndt through September 15th, 2010

August 4th, 2010

Sophie Calle, Photograph from the “North Pole” series, courtesy of Arndt.

Currently on view at Arndt in Berlin is a solo exhibition by Sophie Calle entitled “North Pole,” in which the artist combines objects created in a variety of media to illustrate a narrative of personal significance. Born in France in 1953, Calle is known for her work as a writer, photographer, and conceptual artist. In “North Pole,” she examines the perception and creation of human identity through an abstracted portrait of the life of her mother.

More text and images after the break…

Sohpie Calle’s mother had three wishes before she died. She dreamed of visiting the ocean, New York, and the North Pole; none of which were ever achieved. Upon her death, the artist decided to gather possessions that represented her own image of her mother, and to take them to the North Pole to “bury” her there. Calle traveled to Greenland with the 2008 Cape Farewell Expedition. When the group reached the northernmost point of their trip, the artist went ashore with a family photo, her mother’s beloved white and red Chanel necklace, and diamond ring, which Calle’s grandfather had traded a building for in the midst of World War II. While Calle performed this ceremony, her companions on the Cape Farewell Expedition sang a verse of Marilyn Monroe. Calle believes this ritual combined her mother’s two greatest passions: the North Pole and charming possessions. The commemorative act of burying her mother’s jewelry in a glacier, while contemplating the objects’ past and future, is represented in this series of works.

Sophie Calle, Photograph from the “North Pole” series, courtesy of Cape Farewell.

Sophie Calle, Photograph from the “North Pole” series, courtesy of Cape Farewell.

It is characteristic of Calle to organize her exhibitions in the form of a narrative, and it is impossible to remain unaffected by her personal allure and photographic autobiographies. In this show, Calle portrays a sentimental journey and an art of extraordinary intimacy. The works on view in “North Pole” combine Calle’s formal directness, conceptual density, and unique ability to involve the viewer in the creation of a narrative which is simultaneously complete, and yet rich with uncertainty. These qualities leave room for viewers to project their own identities onto Calle’s photographic autobiography.

Sophie Calle, “North Pole”, 2010, courtesy of Arndt.

Calle has earned her reputation over thirty years of extensive participation in major solo and group exhibitions. In 2007, Calle was invited to be the official representative of France at that year’s Venice Biennial. Her Venice project, “Prenez soin de vous,” was later exhibited in 2008 at the Bibliotheque National de France in Paris, and then twice more in Brazil in 2009 at both the Museum of Modern Art Bahia, and the Salvador and SESC Pompeia of São Paulo. Other solo exhibitions in 2009 include shows at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. In addition to “North Pole,” she also had solo shows this year at the De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in The Netherlands and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlback, Copenhagen.

Sophie Calle lives and works in Malakoff, France and is represented by Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris and Miami. Calle’s work is in the permanent collections at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Ludwig Forum in Aachen. In 2002 the artist received the Spectrum Award from the Internationaler Preis fur Fotografie der Stifun Niedersachen.

-A. Goldberg

Related Links:

Exhibition Page [Arndt]

Calle’s Travel Blog [Cape Farewell]

Art Observed Review of Calle at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art [Art Observed]