Sophie Calle in Aachen

Today my wife and I visited an exhibition in Aachen about Sophie Calle’s work. It was the last day of the exhibition.

My wife, studying history of arts and the “professional” of the two of us when it comes to art, liked the exhibition very much. Myself, I have to confess, I am less enthusiastic. The work I had problems with is exquisite pain, which took some time to absorb in its completeness.

The idea to tell and re-tell the same story from different angles is intriguing, but the first part – “before the pain” – in connection to the second part was actually very dissapointing. The reason for my dissapointment may be due to my personal view on life and values, less to the story told. I’m still thinking about the reason though. Sophie travelled to Japan, leaving behind a man, who broke up with her directly after her trip and didn’t even care to tell her the truth in person in New Delhi. Truth being told, I’m not sure how “exquisite pain” can be that intense as how she displayed it to be. I was looking for every picture, reading piece after piece up to a certain point. Somewhere in between, she wrote to her lover something he would “never read” – because she slept with a stranger (I think she was already in Japan at that time). At that point, I thought, “how much does she really love her boyfriend back in Paris? Does she love him at all? What does he mean to her?”. Progressing to the part of the story where her boyfriend left her, I thought, “Well, they both didn’t really seem to care enough about one another” – because if they did, she would’t cheat on him and he would’t leave her for somebody else. That’s why the display of pain afterwards wasn’t that convincing to me. Certainly, this is a perspective on the situation with different values – and I’m not going so far to deny other people emotions, pain or love. I wondered Sophie Calle’s boyfriend might have reacted if he learned from her one night stand during her travel. If he were an artist like her, he might create a similar work, don’t you think? I left the exhibition with the feeling that – if not one side of the story – at least parts of it remain untold?

I remembered her email address from her correspondence with Josh Greene, the guy she lent her bed to to overcome the end of his relationship. I hope she doesn’t mind me writing to her directly.

My favourite piece in the exhibition was the text next to the mirror (“Benedict – a woman vanishing”) in which people visiting a museum were categorized and compared to one of four animals: ant, butterfly, grasshopper and fish. The ant walks meticulously from piece to piece, to not miss out any work. The butterfly flies from one part in the exhibition to another, without a plan. The grasshopper sees one work he likes and jumps ahead, ignoring everything inbetween. The fish slowly floats by, but never stops.

I think I am an ant.

3 Responses to “Sophie Calle in Aachen”

  • Sorry, however you can’t say “My wife and me visited” since you mean “me” as part of the subject of the sentence, you can’t say “me visited” but rather need “I”

    Think German

    Meine Frau und Ich besuchte..
    ***Meine Frau und mich besuchten..

  • I am responding to the “she slept with some guy while in Japan”
    I think love is not so simple, we do strange things when we are in love, Men I have dated have slept with other women in order to see if they really were in love with me, kinda like sampling the food ha. Maybe she had sex to test herself to see if her love was real. I agree that love should be full of what fairytales tell us its suppose to be. In conclusion would it be fair to make you answer this.
    Imaculate conception? come on sex is sex,true or hopeless romantic.

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