Calle's first artist's book documents her pursuit of one man through the streets of Venice
After following strangers on the streets in Paris for months, photographing them and notating their movements, Sophie Calle ran into a man at an opening whom she had followed earlier that day. "During the course of our conversation, he told me he was planning an imminent trip to Venice. I decided to follow him," she writes at the beginning of Suite Vénitienne
, her first artist's book and the crucible of her inimitable fusion of investigatory methods, fictional constructs, the plundering of real life and the composition of self. Over the course of almost two weeks in Venice, Calle notates, in time-stamped entries, her surveillance of Henri B., as well as her own emotions as she seeks, finds and follows him through the labyrinthine streets of Venice. Her investigation is both methodical (calling every hotel, visiting the police station) and arbitrary (sometimes following a stranger--a flower delivery boy, for instance--hoping someone might lead her to him). This Siglio reissue is a completely new iteration of Suite Vénitienne
(first published in 1988 and long out of print), designed in collaboration with Calle to be the definitive English-language edition. Printed on Japanese paper with a die-cut cover and gilded edges, this beautiful new Siglio edition allows readers to devour this crucial and compelling work. Sophie Calle
(born 1953) is an internationally renowned artist whose controversial works explore the tensions between the observed, the reported, the secret and the unsaid. She has mounted solo shows at major museums around the world and represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Her most recent US exhibition was the acclaimed Rachel, Monique
at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Manhattan in 2014.
The result is this thrilling book, first published in 1983 and long out of print, now newly reissued in an understated English edition, blending matter-of-fact daily text entries with Calle's elusive black and white photography.
For Calle, the idea is to push the bounds of propriety, to go where one wouldn't ordinarily go. This is -- have no doubt -- an assault on privacy, autonomy, undertaken without permission and enacted for the public, a public with which the subject may or may not wish to engage.
That's one of the challenges of her work, the discomfort we feel as she crosses the line.--David L Ulin "Los Angeles Times"
In 1978, when Calle was 25 years old, she returned to Paris after seven years of roaming across North and South America. She struggled to re-adapt to fashionable Parisian society, and after months of reclusiveness, decided to follow people in the streets--not because they particularly interested her, but for the pleasure of following them. I just had to choose a person and follow him and that way my day would simply drift by, she said to Another Magazine. This makes Calle sound like a flaneur, but when she followed a man from Paris to Venice, armed with a blonde wig and a camera, she produced Suite Venitienne (1980), which was quickly noticed and celebrated by both French and international critics.--Sophie Butcher "Vice Magazine"
Her photographs show the back of a raincoated man as he travels through the winding Venetian streets, a surreal and striking backdrop to her internalised mission. The very beauty of her surroundings has a filmic quality, intensifying the thriller-esque narrative of her project.--Harriet Baker "Another Magazine"