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  • Writer's pictureCristea Zhao

14. Sophie Calle, Take Care of Yourself (2007)

Updated: Oct 7, 2020




Sophie Calle

'Take Care of Yourself' (Installation Views)

APRIL 9 – JUNE 6, 2009

Paula Cooper Gallery


This is such a work that addresses loss of love but doesn’t possess any grief, pain or melancholia touch in it. Artist Sophie Calle’s lover sent her an obscure and ambiguous E-mail to admit the failure of maintaining a faithful relationship, so as to end the affair between them. Being unable to fully understand what was his intention, she reached out for a friend for help and thus came up with the idea to invite 107 women from different profession for reading aloud and providing interpretations.


What I think is fascinating about this work is this is not simply a ‘feminist’ work that deconstructed a intimate and personal experience, then built it into a collaborative project. This is a work that investigate the ‘repetition and difference’ of the experience of loss.



In an interview, Calle suggested that the invitation is not only specifically send out for women as a gender criteria, but also women working in a profession that engage with different form of the work of interpretation. In this action, a personal email addressed to her at the first place disappeared and distanced itself, turned into 107 simulacra. Each woman reads the letter based on their own professional habits, without knowing either the author of the letter or its receiver. Through it, the alterity took place of the identity of self, devoured the representation and replaced it with its genuine presentation. As Kittner suggested, "The ostensible identity becomes visible through the acts of viewing and appropriating by the Other, but it is then canceled in an artistic form of ‘méconnaissance.’"


It opens up my way of considering to what extent can I investigate a personal memory. I also have collected multiple letters (even hand written ones) from my exes in the past, I know I have been consciously avoid exposing too much of the materials from myself. I wonder what will come out of it if I fully embrace it.


 

“The Artist Taking Care of the Presentation. Sophie Calle’s Prenez soin de vous.” In: Assign and Arrange. Methodologies of Presentation in Art and Dance. Ed. Maren Butte, Kirsten Maar, Fiona McGovern, Jörn Schafaff, Marie-France Rafael, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014.

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