Sophie Calle - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 3, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Fred Hoffman Gallery, Santa Monica

  • Catalogue Essay

    As a conceptual artist, experimental filmmaker and an accomplished writer, Sophie Calle produces works that bring together text and image to remarkable effects. From the early series L’Homme au Carnet (The Address Book), 1983, to the more contemporary Prenez Soin de Vous (Take Care of Yourself), 2007, Calle has been consistently creating biographical narratives that create vivid interpretations—as opposed to didactic depictions—of individuals. By doing so, Calle successfully blurs the line between fact and fiction, stating that in French, her native tongue, the word interpréter has dual meaning: “to think about meaning or analyze, and to act theatrically. An actor is un interpréte.” By relishing in the ambiguity of personal interpretation, Calle’s works allow viewers to form their own narrative regarding Calle’s thoughts and feelings as shaped by, and directed towards others.

    In the current lot, from Autobiographical Stories, Calle narrates a story about her old childhood mattress and its fate at the hands of its subsequent owner. The text is told matter-of-factly, which diverges from the sentimentalized diary entries that typify autobiographical stories. By doing so, Calle cleverly avoids insulating the work from interpretation by others and instead invites viewers to form opinions of their own, as if stating that others’ interpretations of her life are as valid as her own. There is no inherent sense of truth to her works, she seems to say. In discussion of her work Calle has stated, “[…]any one version is never ‘true,’ it just works better than another. But I can say that it did happen. True? No. It happened.”

    Text Panel:
    It was my bed. The one in which I slept until I was seventeen. Then my mother put it in a room she rented out. On the 7th of October 1979, the tenant lay down on it and set himself on fire. He died. The firemen threw the bed out the window. It was there, in the courtyard of the building for nine days.


The Bed from Autobiographical Stories

Gelatin silver print and text panel.
42 x 62 1/2 in (106.7 x 158.8 cm); text: 15 3/4 x 15 3/4 in (40 x 40 cm).
24 x 86 1/4 in. (114.3 x 219.1 cm) overall.

Number 3 from an edition of 5.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs
[email protected]
+ 1 212 940 1245


4 April 2012
New York