Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer and installation artist.
In her project Take Care of Yourself, Calle creates a collection of interpretations of women’s responses to a break up letter she received via email from her lover. Take Care of Yourself uses the narrative of a jilted lovers letter and she creates her installation by using video recordings, photographic portraiture and textual analysis. She also frames part of the text to go along side with the portraits in her work.
By creating this, she examines the conditions and possibilities of human emotions and opens up the idea of love and heartache, gender and identity and intimacy.
What I really like about Sophie Calle’s work is that she doesn’t purely stick to one particular media to be able to carry out her project, she uses mixed media and I find that’s what makes Take Care of Yourself really interesting. The use of video really helps to capture the individual’s interpretations of how it feels to receive a break up letter – everybody deals with the situation differently and being able to use different types of media to help recording that moment in time possibly relates to the emotions of the individual.
The pictures themselves use soft and subtle lighting which helps set the emotion in the photograph – having soft lighting makes the individual appear to be gentle and fragile to the situation Sophie Calle is putting them in. The use of framing is quite important, even though it is part of a collection, it also remains as an individual artifact. The framing secludes everything inside of itself – what is inside the frame is the story and the story is told as a tableaux as well a series.
The use of narrative is really unusual for this art project. It all has the same storyline, but because the 107 different woman used to create this installation everybody reflects on the letter differently. Memory is one key thing, everybody has been in a similar situation of going through a breakup and reading something can bring up the memory of that time.
How will Sophie Calle help me with my work?
Calle uses both photography and video recording to help create Take Care of Yourself. For my project, I will be using both mediums (if not something similar) to create my final outcomes for my final pieces. Take Care of Yourself is rather personal just like what my project will be, however I do not plan on gathering 107 women and a parrot to create my pieces. Even though Calle has used other women to portray the emotion of reading a break up letter, she somehow manages to reflect herself through these women – everybody had a different emotion and she probably went through them all at different stages of when she read / re-read the letter. My project will reflect on my memories as well as my mothers, but using only both myself and my mother. I feel it would be inappropriate to use strangers to reflect on something that is really personal to me.