Sophie Calle: Because
For almost forty years, French artist Sophie Calle has made work that exposes intimate experience to public view, using still images, video, film, books, performance and text. Her work has often drawn from difficult moments in her personal life. “In the process of turning these experiences into art, they somehow become a type of fiction,” she has said.
“Sophie Calle: Because” is an exhibition of new works on view for the first time in the U.S, at Fraenkel gallery in San francisco. In each piece, a felt curtain embroidered with the French artist’s writing conceals a hidden photograph behind it. In presenting viewers with the text before the picture, Calle upends the usual order in which images are read, creating a poetic surprise or puzzle.
Because is part of Calle’s ongoing exploration of the relationship between narrative, memory, and photography, and mixes humor and melancholy with her particular eye for irony. Subjects include the North Pole depicted in blue darkness, in a picture Calle made “Because that’s what you do when you are at the ends of the earth,” the text explains. She photographed the Spanish bull fighter José Tomás “Because for the first time in my life, I’m about to ask for an autograph,” she confesses.
In “Without Child, 2018,” Calle quotes a description of herself that she found online: “‘Sophie Calle, artist without child by choice,’” pairing it with a photograph of herself holding a baby to her open blouse, as if to nurse. She posed with the infant “By pure mischief, because one happens to be around,” her text states.
Concurrent with “Because,” Fraenkel Gallery presents a selection of work from the gallery’s archives, curated by Sophie Calle. The presentation, which includes work by Diane Arbus, Sophie Calle, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Katy Grannan, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Alec Soth and Garry Winogrand, focuses on images that highlight complicated relationships between couples and pairs.