Sophie Calle began her career as an artist in the early eighties. Her work has inspired contrasting reactions, even among critics, due to its seeming narcissism, an affinity for transgression, and a substantial degree of ambiguity. For these reasons her work eludes all classification. In fact, her art is characterized by a solitary approach with regards to the contemporary artistic panorama. It takes on “shape” precisely due to the concepts of emptiness, absence, and disappearance, however it cannot be included within the categories of Conceptual Art, in the true sense of the term. In fact, her work is almost immodestly teeming with intimate and personal experiences.
Her interest in a random and chance component is always in conflict with the highly formalized systems of her art: Calle uses media—photography above all—with the detachment of an amateur and the sharpness of a true expert.
Through various forms of personal research, she re-interrogates the terms and parameters of the public versus private, vis-à-vis role-playing. In her numerous projects, Calle has immersed herself in a profound investigation of voyeurism, the sense of intimacy, and identity.
By analyzing, documenting, or reconstructing the life of unknowing strangers, the artist manipulates situations and individuals, even taking on different identities for specific periods of time.
The documentation of these research works and the results are presented as photographs, installations, or texts—authentic narrative books.
Double-Blind was made in the early nineties with a specific interest in the nature of desire, the documentation of an ephemeral and unique situation (almost a bet with herself), and the exploration of production modalities normally taken into consideration when making a film. It is a sort of road movie, even if it is mostly centered around the deviations, estrangements, and upheavals that take place internally.[F.B.]
List of Works
Double-Blind (No Sex Last Night), 1992
in collaboration with Gregory Shephard
video, color, sound, 75 min. 58 sec.
Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Rivoli-Turin
The first narrative video work by the artist, and one of considerable length, was created together with her then-collaborator and partner, Gregory Shephard, and is an authentic tour de force of pitiless self-analysis. Equipped with portable video cameras, Calle and Shephard drive across the United States towards the West in a Cadillac convertible, looking for new experiences to document the real events of their meeting, their scheduled journey, and their personal relationship. Each records and narrates a personal diary, giving radically different versions of most of the facts. In a sort of emotional crescendo, the couple documents the various phases of a voyage that is above all an exploration of the relationship of their personalities, sexuality, and desire.