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Sophie Calle: Take Care of Yourself Hardcover – December 15, 2007
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It definitely is.
It's very dynamic, everything has been carefully chosen. The different types of papers, the envelopes, the dvds, attached booklets. It's an incredible experience going through this book.
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. It may even useful for those who want to write a farewell letter that is better than Mr. G's with respect to Sophie, but maybe not better as a source for art and irony. Even if you don't learn to write better letters, you discover how beautiful, artistic, surpricing and provoking a bad letter can be. If taken care of by Sophie.
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.