Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Take Care of Yourself - Sophie does it again...

I’ve blogged about Sophie Calle before; she’s one of my favourite contemporary artists who never fails to make me laugh – mostly because she does such a good job of laughing at herself, always seriously dissecting her life in interesting yet playful ways. Her latest project and new book is Take Care of Yourself (recently published in an English translation). When her boyfriend broke up with her by e-mail , she printed out the letter, (which you can read at the beginning of the book), and sent it to 107 different women, asking for their comments. The women form a very diverse group embodying a whole slew of different professions ranging from judges to police officers to philosophers, romance writers, criminologists and psychoanalysts. Their reactions are all in keeping with their professions and some of them are just hilarious. A proof-reader points out all of the boyfriend’s awkward sentence structures. A journalist turns the letter into a press release. A headhunter analyzes the letter writer as a potential job applicant and concludes that there are reasons to be concerned about the boyfriend's “instability”. There are screenplays, poems, songs, a children’s story, a bodice-ripping romance tale, a cartoon and even a crossword puzzle. Several hours of DVD material is also included – many actresses such as Jeanne Moreau and Miranda Richardson are filmed reading and commenting on the letter and singers such as Feist are filmed responding to it in song. Opera singers, clowns, puppets and even a parrot are all featured. The parrot is a hoot.
Take Care of Yourself is a fat, shiny, sumptuous, glorious art book and though it’s a bit pricey it’s completely worth the money. What a great xmas gift, either for yourself or anyone you know who has ever had one of those HUH??? letters from an ex. The photographs of all the women reading the letters are beautiful (some stunning interior and exterior settings) and the book design is original and a piece of art in its own right (the endpapers feature the letter in morse code, Braille, shorthand and even as a barcode). I absolutely adore Sophie Calle’s work.
Violette Editions has also recently re-issued Double Game – about Calle's interaction with the American novelist Paul Auster who based a fictional character on her in his novel Leviathan. Some of the art he attributed to this character was taken directly from Calle’s work but some was made up. Calle then proceeded to create and play with these fictional art pieces that Auster had devised for his character and Auster follows up with an invented guidebook on how Calle can make life better in New York City. Lots of intriguing and thought-provoking fun.

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