Via Nadav Kander for The New York Times:
Who is Sophie Calle and why is tout chic Paris so intrigued by her weird comings and goings, her obsessively documented and annotated voyages into the interior? Is she a sphinx without a riddle, as Truman Capote said of Andy Warhol, selling solipsism as social commentary? Or a genuine original who has converted the stasis of visual art into the ongoing drama of literary narrative, creating a kind of three-dimensional writing? Or is she perhaps simply an inspired exhibitionist who has been mining her life over the past 25 years as material for loosely conceptualized, viewer-friendly installations that are subsequently published between covers and sold for anywhere from $39.95 to $125?
Her books — the form in which her art is most widely known — are, to be fair, beautifully produced, small works of art unto themselves. One example is the gorgeous catalog of her 2003 retrospective at the Pompidou Center, ‘‘M’as Tu Vue’’ (‘‘Did You See Me?’’); it boasts an ingeniously designed cover in which the artist hides one eye with her hand as though she were trying to make out the spelling of her own name on an eye chart. But the installations that inspire the books are, at first glance, easy to dismiss as slickly packaged songs of the self, shot through with an uninhibited, even violating voyeurism. They have featured everything from glass cabinets stocked with a collection of the artist’s unopened birthday presents garnered from her annual birthday parties to a gentrified phone booth on the corner of Greenwich and Harrison Streets that Calle, at the suggestion of Paul Auster (who, in turn, based aspects of his character Maria in his 1992 novel, ‘‘Leviathan,’’ on Calle), decorated with a bouquet of red rosnovel, ‘‘Leviathan,’’ on Calle), decorated with a bouquet of red roses, a folding chair, an ashtray, a mirror, writing pads and pencils. For a 1998 show called ‘‘Appointment With Sigmund Freud,’’ in which Calle was invited to create an installation at Freud’s house in London, she included photos of her picture-perfect breasts (which, she insists in the accompanying text, were originally ‘‘nothing to write home about’’ but came into their own in 1992), her imperfect nose (which, we learn, her grandparents wanted her to fix) and her wedding dress, laid across the über-analyst’s couch. (Calle was briefly married to a good-looking depressive named Greg Shephard, whom she lassoed into a drive-through Las Vegas wedding and who was her collaborator on a film called ‘‘No Sex Last Night.’’) Many of her exhibits are organized around videos of her seemingly random albeit carefully calculated encounters with the world. One such is ‘‘Twenty Years Later,’’ in which Calle asked her mother to hire a detective to trail her and report on her daily activities, an arrangement that was followed up 20 years later to the day with Calle being tracked, again at her own request, by a sleuth hired by her gallery owner.
What kind of woman, one wonders, responds to being dumped by e-mail not with private turmoil but with a public orchestration of counterrejection? Calle enlisted a throng of women — ranging from police officers, philologists and cartoonists to well-known actresseslike Miranda Richardson and Jeanne Moreau — to analyze her Dear Jane message according to their area of expertise and then displayed the results to great success in an exhibit at the 2007 Venice Biennale curated by Daniel Buren and titled, with mocking reference to the last line of her ex-lover’s communiqué, ‘‘Take Care of Yourself.’’ The exhibit’s thick catalog, jacketed in glossy pink covers, includes four DVDs, an erudite essay titled ‘‘The Exacerbation of Heterosexual Love in the West,’’ poems, drawings, musical notations, a crossword puzzle, a piece of origami handiwork, an encrypted version of the e-mail message, a handwritten letter from her mother that assures her daughter that ‘‘Beautiful, famous and intelligent as you are, you’ll soon find someone better’’ and lush double-page photographs. It opens with some crisp words from the mistress of ceremonies, typed out in a large font on a page with lots of white space: ‘‘I received an e-mail telling me it was over. / I didn’t know how to respond. / It was almost as if it hadn’t been meant for me. / It ended with the words, ‘Take care of yourself.’ / And so I did. / I asked 107 women (as well as 2 hand puppets / and a parrot), chosen for their profession or skills, / to interpret this letter: / To analyze it, comment on it, dance it, sing it. / Dissect it. Exhaust it. Understand it for me. / Answer for me. / It was a way of taking the time to break up. / A way of taking care of myself.’’
Among the many possible responses to Calle’s work, what emergesmost clearly is that hers is a very contemporary instance of personal mythologizing, of using the material of her own life as paradigmatic. Her art bears the traces of other influences (Vito Acconci, Cindy Sherman, Orlan and Christian Boltanksi, to name a few) yet manages in its deliberate and singular accessibility to resound with the inner performative self in all of us. At the same time, she is as an embodiment of the postmodern instinct to de-authenticate and expose, showing up her own — and, by implication, our — reality as no more than a simulacrum. She dedicates ‘‘Take Care of Yourself,’’ which opened a little over a year after her mother’s death, to ‘‘Monique Sindler, who plays the role of the mother in this book, a role she recently left behind.’’Monique Sindler, needless to say, was Sophie’s actual mother. It’s the kind of macabre joke, or a grim jeu d’esprit that Calle specializes in, shattering the comfortable division between life and art, real and unreal — all in search of the transposable nugget of experience.
Continue reading the article here.
Everyone at Bad at Sports wants to congrats The Post Family on their new site and everyone should check it out.
Matt Hooks put a lot of time into it, it looks great and I wanted to say good job.
So to Alex, Chad, Davey, David, Rod, Sam & Scott keep up the good work and say hi to your mother for me, ok….
via Off Center
While the “statements” on view in the exhibition Statements: Beuys, Flavin, Judd may seem less-than-political at first glance, all three artists — Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd — were deeply engaged in political matters. According to exhibition curator Yasmil Raymond, all three men, who were adult artists working in the turbulent 1960s, were both military veterans and pacifists and had bold views on politics of their day. Of course, theirs wasn’t politics in the traditional sense. As Beuys once said, “I have nothing to do with with politics — I know only art.” Yet he and environmentalist Likas Beckmann founded Germany’s Green Party. And Judd, who was bitterly opposed to war of all kinds, wrote the seminal essay “Art and Internationalism” in protest of imperialism; his withdrawal to Marfa, Texas, some say, was a response to the war in Vietnam.
With a contentious and historic election three weeks away, the Walker has taken some of the political quotations by artists in the show and reproduced them on simple red and blue buttons, to be given away free at each Target Free Thursday Night. The statements, selected by Raymond and Education’s Sarah Peters, are bold, positive and quirky — like Beuys’ quizzical “Democracy is Merry” — serving as either a welcome respite from the clichés of modern horserace politics or a transcendent view of a different possibility for democracy.
Weekly art news roundup with all the news that we’re too busy to cover, but still talk about around the chuck wagon water cooler. Yeeehaaw lets get started:
Pulitzer widow donates art, $45M to Harvard art museum:
The Harvard Art Museum has received a gift of 31 works of art and $45 million US from Emily Rauh Pulitzer, a former assistant curator, 1963 Harvard graduate, spouse of Joseph Pulitzer Jr., and also was assistant curator of drawings at the museum from 1957 to 1964. This marks the largest gift in the history of the museum.
3 Canadian projects recognized for sustainable design:
The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction has recognized three Canadian projects in its annual awards for the most environmentally responsible construction projects. The winners: The Living With Lakes Centre in Sudbury, Ont. – The Evergreen Brick Works project in Toronto. – The North Vancouver Outdoor School.
National Gallery exhibit designed to interact with viewers:
The National Gallery of Canada opens an exhibition Friday that’s designed to display how much impact a viewer can have on a work of art, rather than the other way around. Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer is made up of 17 large works, many of which interact with the viewer.
Birmingham Named Britain’s Ugliest City:
More than a third of 1,111 people surveyed thought Birmingham had the ugliest buildings in the country. Ugliest building? Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre has “won” that prize.
Roman Sim City Brought To Life:
A team of archaeologists, scientists and software programmers has created a 3D virtual model of the city of Cologne as it was 2,000 years ago. Though not yet online, the software allows visitors to fly through the city in its Roman glory, just in time for Gladiator 2: Chariots of Fire.
Damien Hirst Tops Art Review’s Power 100:
The uber-seller is no. 1 on the British magazine’s list of the art world’s most powerful people for the second time; runners-up include dealer Larry Gagosian and MoMA’s Kathy Halbreich. With the art world conquered he next shoots for Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Award.
Southern Illinois To Get Major Art Gift
New Yorkers Herbert and Dorothy Vogel… working with the National Gallery of Art in Washington and federal arts agencies, chose the University Museum at Southern Illinois University to receive 50 pieces [of the Vogel collection.] The gift is part of a plan announced in April to donate 50 works from the Vogels to one art institution in each state. Ten recipients were named then, and announcements about the remaining 40 are expected this week. Forget Harvard like it needs the money!