Sophie Calle: Exquisite Pain
Part I presents photographs, letters and other mementos from a 92-day trip to Japan. On the last day, a wall label tells us, her lover back in Paris broke off with her by phone, and that is why each consecutive item is stamped ”92 days to unhappiness,” ”91 days to unhappiness” “90 days…” and so on.
Part II pertains to the period after the breakup, during which Ms. Calle asked people to describe to her their most emotionally painful memory. Diptychs arrayed around the gallery pair machine-embroidered banners, one bearing another person’s story and the other an increasingly brief retelling of Ms. Calle’s story. The banners hang below emblematic photographs: on Ms. Calle’s side, of the red hotel phone by which she received her bad news; on the other, of a significant thing or place. By the end of the series, Ms. Calle’s banner has become empty of words, her obsessive grief presumably exhausted.