Take Care of Yourself
Photos, text, videos interpreting a break-up letter
I knew this exhibition from before, after seeing it at Tallinn Art Hall two years ago. So I was curious on how Stavanger kunstmuseum would present it, and whether it would have any different impact on me, based on both the presentation and the revisiting.
This starts with the artist receiving a letter from her boyfriend, where he ends their relationship, ending the letter with what became the title of the exhibition: "Take care of yourself." In taking care of herself, Sophie Calle sends a copy of the letter to a wide range of female acquaintances, asking them all to interpret the contents of it. The journalist, the phsychoanalyst, the poet and the lawyer all give different versions. All is presented in text or sound, connected with a photo or video of the actual person, together with her name and title.
In this way the heartbraking letter is dissected and analyzed to make it harmless. The wide range of versions show very clearly how differently a text may be perceived. Even two women of the same profession would probably leave different contributions. Some are maybe finding too much meaning and messages in the text, others choose to fold it, shoot it or eat it instead. Probably any text could be treated and interpreted differently like this. All participants are women. This is no coincidence. Will it ever be possible to get full understanding across the gender border?
The exhibition is cleverly installed. The portrait of the woman and her interpretation are visible, and belong together. The name and title is slightly less visible, this leaves it up to you to guess the background first.
One of the exhibition halls shows Calle's earlier works. Here you get the chance to see her 1980 project from South Bronx where she every day asked one person to show their favourite spot, her 1983 project where she called the people noted in a found address book to describe the book's owner, and her 1984 project of asking Los Angeles citizens about where the angels were. And several books document her works further. Stavanger kunstmuseum offers a great chance to get to know better a very interesting artist.