At the heart of this exhibition is a break-up e-mail that the artist received from a lover, which ends with the line “Take Care of Yourself”. Sophie Calle decided to do just that:
“I received an email 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 (including two made from wood and one with feathers), 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.”
Originally produced for the French Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Prenez soin de vous consists of texts, photos, films and voices of 107 women of all ages who interpret the break-up letter through their various professions. This poetic and often touching project speaks to us all about our relation to the loved one.
Sophie Calle is a pre-eminent French artist whose conceptual and poetic works obscure the borders between private and public, art and life. She often employs self-established guidelines, questions or rituals to transform her life into image and text-based works. She acts as the voyeur in Les Dormeurs (1979) and L’Hôtel (1981), the pursuer in La Suite vénitienne (1983) or shares her love sorrows with others in Douleur Exquise (1984-2003) and in her most recent exhibition, Take Care of Yourself (2007). Her experiments with different forms of photographic documentation including archival images, street photography, surveillance imagery and portraiture are combined with texts and stories that become compelling works which reside wistfully between fiction and reality.
Chanteuse de soul, Nicole Willis