Sophie Calle on Take Care of Yourself (2007), first presented at the French Pavillion in the 2007 Venice Biennale:
I received an email telling me it was over.
I didn’t know how to respond.
It was almost as if it hadn’t been meant for me.
It ended with the words, “Take care of yourself.”
And so I did.
I asked 107 women (including two made from wood and one with feathers),
chosen for their profession or skills, to interpret this letter.
To analyze it, comment on it, dance it, sing it.
Dissect it. Exhaust it. Understand it for me.
Answer for me.
It was a way of taking the time to break up.
A way of taking care of myself.
As a “tour de force of feminine responses…executed in a wild range of media,” Sophie Calle orchestrates a virtual chorus of women’s interpretations and assessments of a breakup letter she received in an email. In photographic portraits, textual analysis, and filmed performances, the show presents a seemingly exhaustive compendium with contributions ranging from a clairvoyant’s response to a scientific study, a children’s fairytale to a Talmudic exegesis, among many others. Examining the conditions and possibilities of human emotions, Take Care of Yourself opens up ideas about love and heartache, gender and intimacy, labor and identity. 107 women (including a parrot) from the realms of anthropology, criminology, philosophy, psychiatry, theater, opera, soap opera and beyond each take on this letter, reading and re-reading it, performing it, transforming it, and pursuing the emotions it contains and elicits. - paula cooper gallery
Within the scope of the work:
The ex’s grammar and syntax have been torn apart by a copy editor, his manners rubbished by an etiquette consultant and his lines pored over by Talmudic scholars. He has been re-ordered by a crossword-setter, evaluated by a judge, shot up by a markswoman, second-guessed by a chess player and performed by actress Jeanne Moreau. A forensic psychiatrist decided he was a “twisted manipulator.” > read the rest of the interview here.
Video excerpt responses to the piece may be seen here.