“I went to Istanbul. I spoke to blind people, most of whom had lost their sight suddenly. I asked them to describe the last thing they saw”. Sophie Calle
La Dernière Image (The last Image), realized in 2011 in Istanbul, once named the “city of the blind”, gives voice to men and women who have lost their sight and asks them to describe the last image they remember, their last memory of the visible world.
The new solo exhibition by the French conceptual artist Sophie Calle Pour la dernière et pour la première fois (For the Last and First Time) is currently on view, alongside a series of recent films, Voir la mer (See the sea) from the lens of Caroline Champetier’s camera, at Les Rencontres d’Arles, Chapelle Saint-Martin du Méjan, France. Starting from 8 September it will be possible to see the series at Perrotin Gallery, Paris.
Born in 1953 in Paris, Sophie Calle is the daughter of Robert Calle, oncologist former director of the Institut Curie and collector behind the Carré d’Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in the city of Nimes. Strongly influenced by the entourage of close friends of his father (Raysse, Arman, Christian Boltanski), she decided to move towards the artistic creation.
After being a pure activist – maoism, feminism, leftist proletarian, pro-palestinian fighting in southern Lebanon, she travelled for seven years around the world, she then returned to Paris. Lost without professional project without specific capacity, without friends, she decides to follow strangers on the street, as if to recover Paris through the paths of others. Soon, she begins to play, photography, note his movements, randomly chooses a man and decides to follow him to Paris, then in Venice. Later, a friend remarked on the warmth of the sheets, when it goes down to her, gives her the idea of inviting people at random next few hours sleep in his bed.
In 1979, Sophie Calle asked to different strangers to spend a number of hours in bed so that it is occupied continuously for eight days, by agreeing to be photographed and answer a few questions. She takes pictures of sleepers and dutifully notes the important details of these brief encounters: discussion topics, sleeping positions, their movements during their sleep, the detailed menu of breakfast she was preparing for them. This work, entitled Dormeurs (Sleepers), holds the attention of the critic Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, husband of one of the sleepers, he invited her to the Paris Biennale in 1980. “In fact, says Sophie Calle, it was he who decided that I was an artist. “
Therefore, the work of Sophie Calle seeks to build bridges between art and life. In the form of installations, photographs, stories, videos and films. Her photographs and written accounts, borrowing the style of the description or inventory report, attest to the reality of the situations it creates: a maid in a hotel, a stripper at a fairground, pursuit of a man in Venice, etc.. Often based on rules and constraints, her works question the porous boundary between the public and private sphere.
Published by Actes Sud, Sophie Calle has published numerous books. The Centre Pompidou has devoted an exhibition in 2004. She represented France at the Venice Biennale from June 10 to November 21, 2007 with two works: Take care of yourself, a breakup letter received by Sophie Calle and analyzed by 107 professional women suggesting her how to technically take care, and a video made at upon the death of his mother, when unfortunately she didn’t manage to catch her last breath.