Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sophie Calle

Need advice? Ask 107 of your closest friends to give you their views. That's what Sophie Calle did and the exhibition at the Bibliotheque National Richelieu is the result. This art piece was the French entry to the 2007 Venice Biennale, which we just missed last year, so when I learned from Polly's blog that it had opened in the main reading room of the historic Bibliotheque we went right over.

The exhibition is called Prenez Soin de Vous (Take care of yourself), the final line in a "Dear Jane" letter to Sophie from her unnamed lover. Sophie's response? She emailed the letter to a broad spectrum of women in different fields of endeavor: actresses, writers, musicians, criminologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, clowns, dancers, clothing designers, Talmudists, and so on, asking each of them to respond as they wished. The result is a series of videos, writings, and musical performances. The musician put it to music, the clown essentially ignored the content but played hilariously with the punctuation, the criminologist suggested the writer was a dangerous egotist, the Talmudic scholars prepared a three-part exigesis, the actresses read their interpretations of it, etc. etc.


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