Sophie Calle, ‘Exquisite pain, J-65 (Tunas)’, 1984-1999, Perrotin

Exquisite Pain In 1984 I was awarded a French foreign ministry grant to go to Japan for three months. I left on October 25, not knowing that this date marked the beginning of a 92-day countdown to the end of a love affair. Nothing extraordinary - but to me, at the time, the unhappiest moment in my life, and one for which I blamed the trip itself. I got back to France on January 28, 1985. From that moment on, whenever people asked me about the trip I skipped the Far East bit and told them about my suffering instead. In turn, I started asking both friends and chance encounters: "When did you suffer most?" I did this systematically until I had gotten over my pain by comparing it with other people's or had worn out my own story through sheer repetition. The method proved radically effective: three months later, I was cured. However, fearing a possible relapse, I decided not to exploit the experiment artistically. By the time I returned to it, fifteen years had passed. MOD. Med. Intense, highly localized pain

Image rights: Courtesy Galerie Perrotin

About Sophie Calle

A controversial figure as well as one of France’s leading conceptual artists, Sophie Calle explores her own psychological and emotional terrain in multimedia works, probing ideas of control, freedom, gender, intimacy, and distance in human relationships. Perhaps her most contentious work, Address Book (1983) was inspired by an address book that Calle found on the street, photographed, and sent back to its owner. She then rang the numbers in the book to assemble a portrait of the owner, turning the results into a multimedia installation. For Take Care of Yourself (2007), which was exhibited in the French pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Calle invited 107 women from various walks of life to interpret and assess a breakup note the artist received in an email. In a range of media including photographic portraits, textual analysis, and filmed performances, women pore over the emotional content of the email; contributions include a clairvoyant’s response, a scientific study, and a child’s fairytale.

French, b. 1953, Paris, France, based in Malakoff, France

Group Shows

New York,
Perrotin Bookstore NYC
GASK - Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region, 
Kutna Hora, Czechia,
Images For Images (Artists fir Tichy)
Berlinische Galerien - Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, 
Berlin, Germany,
Berlin 89/90 – Kunst zwischen Spurensuche und Utopie

Fair History on Artsy

View Artist's CV