All About Her Mother: Sophie Calle

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Published November 5, 2010

RACHEL/MONIQUE, 2010. © ADAGP, PARIS 2010. COURTESY EMMANUEL PERROTIN, PARIS; ARNDT & PARTNER, BERLIN/ZURICH; KOYANAGI, TOKYO; PAULA COOPER, NEW YORK.

Lovers, strangers, family members, everyone who crosses the life of artist Sophie Calle is implicated in her multi-media tests of the porosity of intimacy and public space—famously without their knowledge or against their will. Buried amidst the Palais de Tokyo’s brand new art space—a 9000-square-meter basement that connects to the neighboring Musée d’Art Moderne—she explores one of her all recurring, obsessive interests, her recently passed mother. The show “Rachel, Monique” is in fact named for the latter, and its central tropes are the maternal figure and the transcendence from life to death. Calle shows films, post-it notes, and photos, some previously one view at the Venice Biennale, others for the first time.

PFEIFFER:  What would your mother’s reaction have been?

CALLE: If I did it, it’s because I knew she would have liked it. She liked to be the center of attention; she would have loved to see her name on the poster. You see her dying calmly, softly, imperceptibly. If she had died in pain, I would have never showed that. I did this show because it was in my nature to do it, and because to me it was homage, not an instrumentalization of her corpse.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW.