Meandering forth through Montparnasse Cemetery each awakened dawn, bound for schoolmaster’s paper realm, lost youth’s Sophie Calle, amidst the labyrinthine gravestones, encountered many of the leitmotifs that would come to characterise much of her enigmatic oeuvre: Sought narrative; obfuscated identity; memory materiality; catalogued absence, encapsulated fragility, recollection, departure, and of course death. Occasional photographer, investigative journalist, performance artist, cathartic anthropologist, experimental writer, and provocateur extraordinaire, Sophie Calle’s deeply exploratory works, omnivorous in their excavations, defy decisive categorisation.
Sorrow triumphantly fatigued at last through obsessive, repetitive cataloguing also characterises a great deal of Sophie Calle’s oeuvre. Immensely visceral, deeply intimate experiences of heartbreak, melancholia, and death, are dissected wholly uncensored before audiences. Sophie Calle memorably transcends that vast chasm which divides all that an individual conceals from that which is divulged, in works such as Exquisite Pain (2003), which chronicles her delicious expectation of rejoining an absent lover, a photograph for each day of anticipation, followed by the love affair’s denouement and aftermath. Once memorialised by a photograph for each day, now represented by omission, the work is characterised, variously by despair, incredulity, vexation, resentment, and at last, catharsis, detachment, even antipathy. Equally, Take Care Of Yourself (2009), incorporated a lover’s farewell correspondence to Sophie Calle, one she then assigned to 107 other women of every constitution and proclivity imaginable, requesting their thoughts on such. These multifarious interpretations were then exhibited, a mass excavation of that enduring universal, sorrow, equally nourishing for both herself and audience, in symbiotic catharsis.
Orchestrating odysseys of enigmatic discovery, either drawn from direct experience or the experiences of others, Sophie Calle possesses that remarkable ability to author captivating narratives and enduring encounters, often from the apparently pedestrian. Fabrication or laboured superimposition, however, does not occur in her creations. Rather, she draws naturally cryptic elements from the innumerable experiences and encounters that constitute everyday life, assembling serpentine tales characterised by fanciful conjecture, cyclical reinterpretation, sequence rearrangement, and deepest introspection. Over American croissants, swiftly returned, and blackest coffee at Greenwich Village’s Hotel Hugo one clouded May’s dawn, Sophie Calle offered neither opacity nor enigma nor evasion. She instead possessed a nature of most agreeable graciousness and enchanting candour, sincerely divulging her character wholly unexpurgated, in that manner emblematic perhaps of all Sophie Calle’s enduring works.
45 pgs, 20 × 15 cm, Softcover, 2016, 978-3-9815549-3-9