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Sophie Calle: Take Care of Yourself [Hardcover]

by Sophie Calle
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 15, 2007 2742768939 978-2742768936 Nov Har/Dv
In this remarkable artist's book, French conceptual artist/provocateur Sophie Calle presents 107 outside interpretations of a "breakup" e-mail she received from her lover the day he ended their affair. Featuring a stamped pink metallic cover, multiple paper changes, special bound-in booklets, bright green envelopes containing DVDs and even Braille endpapers, it is a deeply poignant investigation of love and loss, published to coincide with the 2007 Venice Biennale--where Calle served as that fair's French representative. All of the interpreters of Calle's breakup letter were women, and each was asked to analyze the document according to her profession--so that a writer comments on its style, a justice issues judgment, a lawyer defends Calle's ex-lover, a psychoanalyst studies his psychology, a mediator tries to find a path towards reconciliation, a proofreader provides a literal edit of the text, etc. In addition, Calle asked a variety of performers, including Nathalie Dessay, Laurie Anderson and Carla Bruni, among others, to act the letter out. She filmed the singers and actresses and photographed the other contributors, so that each printed interpretation stands alongside at least one riveting image of its author, and some are also accompanied by digital documentation. The result is a fascinating study and a deeply moving experience--as well as an artwork in its own right. Already a collector's item, this is a universal document of how it feels to grieve for love.

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Sophie Calle: Take Care of Yourself + Sophie Calle: The Address Book + Sophie Calle: True Stories
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sophie Calle was born in Paris in 1953. Since the 1980s, her work has been shown at galleries and museums throughout the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tate Modern, London and Paris's Centre Pompidou, which hosted a major retrospective in 2005. In 2007, Calle represents France at the Venice Biennale.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Dis Voir/Actes Sud; Nov Har/Dv edition (December 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2742768939
  • ISBN-13: 978-2742768936
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 8.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more than a catalogue May 31, 2008
Calle has said she's more comfortable working in the book format and it shows. Most glossy catalogues involve a couple of self-validating essays and a lot of images of the works in the show. This book is no less than the exhibition itself in book format.

The format of the exhibition (107 documents, transcripts and photographic portraits) is entirely replicated here, with very strong attention to detail, including various grades of paper as suits the needs of the text/image. The English version is especially handy as the transcripts also act as translation, without losing anything from the French documents. Also included are DVDs of every response that took the form of video. The cover is actually a rather glamorous shiny metallic pink, and not the matte colour in the picture. This is an expensive book but if you're interested in Calle, it's worth it, and rewards even someone who didn't get to see the exhibition.

And the work itself? I saw it a year ago and it was easily the most interesting thing at the Biennial. Calle, unable to fully take in a break-up email, sent it to 107 women to dissect, interpret, explain it for her according to their various professions. Those females include a lawyer, a journalist, a parrakeet, a teenager, a dancer, a markswoman, a comedienne, and a proofreader - each woman later photographed reading the letter in wonderful, luminous portraits. The cumulative effect is funny, pointed, sad, and basically fascinating. It's an attempt to understand breakups that we can all relate to - many people said it was too dogged, indulgent, too literal, but that basically is exactly why I like it. A consciously quixotic attempt to bring the mess of relationships somewhere into the rational, but you can't help feeling that along the way Calle's ex-lover got his comeuppance.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work September 14, 2007
I saw this book (in French) at the Venice Biennale, after seeing the show the book is based on in the French Pavillion. The show was one of the most engaging works of art I've seen (stand-out for me at the event), and the book is a lush record of it. There were DVD's included in the one I saw in Venice. The work dissects a break up letter-real or fictional we are not sure. A number of women (and a hilarious cockatoo) give a personal response to the letter- some are written corrections and textual responses, others are engaging video performances which range from spaced out dancing,opera, kabuki or plain speaking in home environments. It was fascinating to watch as an installation- and for those unable to see the real thing, the book gives a close account. Recommend to anyone who is a fan of Calle's work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars moving October 25, 2007
I fully agree with E. Lindsay. The work by Sophie Calle was the most intense, moving and also the most brilliant of the Venice Biennale. The book gives an excellent impression.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Visual and conceptual masterpiece March 30, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Beautifully presented, so imaginative and challenging. A really reflective piece of work, which for anyone who has ever pondered lost love, would relate to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Referee 108 March 12, 2013
You want to break a relationship. You have three options: telling the truth and be ruthless, disappear and be cowardly, or to lie and be gentle. Most men, and woman, I believe, choose the third option. You don't tell your lover-not-to-be that she is too indolent, don't have humor, is too self-centered, nor do you want to leave a "what is wrong with me". And of course you don't want to admit you don't understand irony. So you lie.

The art of saying farewell to your lower is to lie well. In the book there are 107 interpretations of a farewell letter from a Mr. G to Sophie. None of them, as far as I can see, says this was a truthful and candid letter. But maybe it was as truthful as a lying letter can be?

We have to assume that the 3rd option was chosen. 107 referees seem to support this interpretation. Mr G. is probably not amongst the 107.

For a person, like the present referee, that understands badly French, but somewhat English, it would be nice to know if the interpretation of a translated letter would be similar to the interpretation of the original letter. In my language you say:"I love you" to, say, 3 persons during your life time, in English there may be 3 persons you don't say that to. In French, I don't know. By the way: long time ago a girl said to me: "take care of yourself" (that is the title of the book) and I thought she cared about my life. But apparently, in English, you can care and disappear - which is sort of logical; when she disappeared I had to take care of myself. So, the book was read - and seen - and compared to the exhibition -by a novice in everything. Since this is an art book,it may be all right.

Sophie Calles book with the interpretations is beautiful, funny, and best of all - an angry book.
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