Sophie Calle exhibition at BOZAR, Brussels

This weekend we went to the museum: BOZAR (which sounds like Beaux-Arts, and is part of the museum Palais des Beaux-Arts/Paleis voor Schone Kunsten/Centre of Fine Arts in Brussels).The exhibition we went to see was by Sophie Calle. (info: the exhibition runs till 13/09/2009). It is part of the section Contemporary Art @ BOZAR.

I did not know anything of her, so I pretty much did not know what to expect. I went open-minded, ready to be filled with images, impressions and things to digest (intellectually).

First let’s sketch who this woman is:

Sophie Calle is French, born in 1953. She’s an artist who uses various means to express herself: writes, photographs, uses installations and conceptual art.

Photo left: Sophie CALLE – Le Nez 2000
© Jean-Baptiste Mondino.
Sabam Belgique 2009.
Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Arndt & Partner, Paula Cooper Gallery.


As you might read elsewhere if you search information on her, she tries to explore the lines of intimacy (contrast between public and private). She does this by using art to express very intimate things about her: vulnerability, her anxieties, loss of her mother, loneliness…

But it also seems she uses art to explore the subject of identity. Here she does not only explore her own identity, but almost as a voyeur follows other people. He did this several times when returning to Paris, especially after years of travelling the world, to rediscover Paris and to meet people. She could spend the day randomly picking people and following them everywhere, taking pictures.

On several occasions, she asked her mother to contact a detective agency to follow her during the day and report on her movements. I found that interesting to see, because in the exhibition, they showed her report on what she did that day: detailed, informative. And juxtaposition to that you got the photographs and very dry, clear-cut and professional report by the detective of all of her movements, without really knowing who she met or why she was at a certain place. Sophie knew a detective would follow her. The detective, however, was not aware that she, in fact, had commissioned the job.

Photo right: Sophie CALLE “Où et quand? Lourdes” 2005/2008 (détail)
Photographies, textes, encadrements, néon, marbre 141 cm x 15 m de long
© SABAM Belgium 2009
Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris / Miami ;
Arndt & Partner, Berlin / Zurich Ph

This gives her a vulnerable side as well. As she lays herself bare to the world through her art, you get invited into very private corners of her live. This I felt when she talked about her mother, about her youth, about lost loves. If you can, please also check out .

Josh Greene wrote to Sophie after his breakup, asking to mourn for his broken relationship in her bed in Paris. Sophie, instead, packed up her bed, matres, linen and pillows to send them from Paris to California for him to borrow during his mourning process. When he got over his heart-break, he send back the bed to her.

The exhibition took 16 halls in total (small ones). It wasn’t always clear where you had to start and there were a lot of texts to read (but now that I know she’s a writer as well, it seems logical now).

I’m glad to have seen Sophie Calle. Glad to get some culture in as well.

Posted in art

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