Sophie Calle

In April 1981, a detective followed the French artist Sophie Calle through the streets of Paris for one day. Hired by her mother at the artist’s request, the detective logged her movements and photographed her activities as she, without his knowledge, recorded her experience of being watched. She later exhibited the reports side-by-side in her piece “La Filature” (“The Shadow,” 1981), which highlights Calle’s method of working over three decades. Staging provocations resembling seduction, documenting them with snapshot photography and a forensic first-person point of view, she crosses the thresholds of voyeur and exhibitionist, public and private, conceptual control and chance.
Calle began following strangers in Paris in 1979. The practice served to orient her in her native city after a period spent abroad. “At the end of January 1981, on the streets of Paris, I followed a man whom I lost sight of a few minutes later in the crowd,” Calle writes in her first book, Suite Vénitienne (1980). According to Calle, “That very evening, quite by chance, he was introduced to me at an opening. During the course of our conversation, he told me he was planning an imminent trip to Venice, I decided to follow him.” Her black and white photos capture dread and boredom, the banality of obsession and waiting – the here and not here of shadowy couplings, empty corridors, the back of a head. “These are not souvenir snapshots of a presence, but rather shots of an absence, the absence of the followed, that of the follower, and that of their reciprocal absence,” writes her friend Jean Baudrillard. read more»»