My Sunshiny Life

{November 29, 2009}   Sophie Calle – Take Care of Yourself

We’ve all had relationship break ups, but we probably haven’t coped with them the way that Sophie Calle decided to.  Upon receiving a rather odd break up email from her lover ‘X’ this french woman didn’t sit at home eating her way into another dress size, she embarked on a project to decipher the meaning behind it, asking a bunch of women to interpret the words. 

My interpretation of the letter… X is a self serving narcissist who focussed on his own feelings in the letter.  When they embarked upon their affair he’d promised to stop seeing the ‘others’.  Apparently he had four on the go at once.  He left them for Sophie and then realised his fan base just wasn’t big enough with one woman.  Breaking up over email is a cowardly act anyway and the fact that he focussed on his own feelings throughout, still professing love to her, but unable to change his alley cat ways to be with her showed a lack of strength and integrity.  Then at the last minute, as if realising that he actually had someone else to consider in the breakup other than himself, he urged her to take care of herself.  Twat.

The whole idea makes for a fascinating, if slightly indulgent art exhibition, as 107 women share their insight into the letter, alongside their photograph and job title.  The women were from diverse backgrounds, from a stay at home mother, to a judge, sub editor, scientist, police captain, dancer, actors, sms text translater and even a parrot.  I loved the response from a rifle shooter, delicate pellet holes punctuated the love letter which was mounted on a backlit board letting white light shine through.  The responses were presented in a variety of ways, some chose photos, some text and some were filmed.  An Italian woman read the letter while peeling onions, pausing every few sentences to weigh in with her opinion.  She finished her film segment by blowing her nose on the letter, blaming the onions as she wiped tears from her eyes.

A perfect bite sized gallery visit and I’ll be back on another day to see her other exhibition called Talking to Strangers.  Check it out for yourself at the whitechapel gallery.

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