Sophie Calle is a French photographer living and working in Paris. Her project ‘Take Care of Yourself’ was inspired by a text message from her boyfriend who was dumping her by text. The idea for the title was from how he signed off his text, “Prenez soins de vois” (Take care of yourself). Calle writes that the idea came to her just a couple of days later after she had shown the message to friends and asked for there comments, she maintains that her agenda was never for revenge but was simply an inspired idea for an artistic project. She makes no mention of the ex-lovers name and although she knows he was unhappy with the project, he decided (perhaps sensibly) not to interfere.
Once she decided to use her text as the subject for her project she spent two years showing around her text to a 107 professional women, photographed them reading it and invited them to analyse it according to their job: The text’s grammar and syntax was torn apart by a copy editor, his manners rubbished by an etiquette consultant, his lines pored over by a Talmudic scholar, his text re-ordered by a crossword setter, evaluated by a Judge, shot up by a markswomen, second guessed by a chess player, performed by actress, Jeanne Moreau, a psychiatrist called the author of the text “A twisted manipulator” Taken from an interview with The Guardian, ‘He loves me not’ and a Guardian article about her exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery also see Review to the Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition.
I found this to be a very funny, cleaver and entertaining idea of addressing a very personal and upsetting experience. On one level in is a way she is getting even, on another level she is rising above it and by turning it on it’s head she is making art out of it. On yet another level she is empowering other people who perhaps have experienced something very similar in their own lives. I like the way she has creatively produced different images of the text, a ballet dancer reading it as she conducts stretching exercises on the bar, a lady reading the text with the text overlaid on the whole image, another turned in to a greeting card for example.
This project is a very interesting example of postmodern work it makes us consider our modern life styles and methods of communication and how this impacts on us as individuals and as human beings. This insider position is also a reflection of modern women and their growing empowerment.