Talking to Strangers
23 January - 16 May 2010
work in collection
Acclaimed for her photographic and film installations, Sophie Calle’s work reports on encounters and situations that she sets in motion. Whether asking strangers to sleep in her bed, or inviting an author to take charge of her destiny, she documents social interactions that require a pact of complete trust. This exhibition brings together major works from the 1980s to the present.
Born in Paris in 1953, Calle began taking photographs and making notes as she followed strangers on the streets in 1979. Image and text, presented in compelling narratives, have since formed the basis of her work. Poised between private and collective experience, they allude to journalism, anthropology and psychoanalysis, as well as to literature, the diary and the photo novel.
The exhibition premieres the English language version of Prenez soin de vous (Take Care of Yourself), a highlight of the 2007 Venice Biennale. Calle invited 107 women from a ballerina to a lawyer to use their professional skills to interpret an email in which her partner breaks up with her. The poignant, amusing and poetic result forms a large-scale installation that transcends the personal to provide a monument to the women involved.
The exhibition continues with earlier works including The Bronx, 1980, where Calle asked residents of the south Bronx in New York to take her to a place of their choice, and her collaboration with American novelist Paul Auster in 1994, where she becomes one of his fictional characters. The exhibition is accompanied by an anthology of key texts about Calle’s work, co-published with Violette Editions.
Sophie Calle has been organised in collaboration with the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London