Friday, 29 March 2019

Making Art with Frances Morris: Sophie Calle

I recognise that I like to be in control. I often find it easier to respond to instructions or a set of restrictions than I do to be given complete free-reign. Within my art practice (as well as in life), I often devise my own set of rules to follow. For instance, only use the colour white, fill the entire frame with pattern, only use materials that are edible.

It is these tendencies that initially introduced me to the work of Sophie Calle, an artist who is famously controlling and who devises and implements "rules of the game". 'Sophie works with real life experiences we can all relate to – the death of a parent, the end of a relationship. Her work resonates with her preoccupations - death, absence, the mourning of the passing of life. "Growth is a series of mournings."

Calle recently produced an album of songs by 40 international musicians, in memory of her dead cat Souris. There’s Jarvis Cocker, Juliette Armanet, Bono, Michael Stipe to name a few. She’s made work out of her mother dying or her boyfriend ditching her. She’s had a job as a stripper, made a crazy road movie called No Sex Last Night. She's contacted everyone in a lost address book she found on the street. She’s asked people to describe their most exquisite pain, invited strangers to attend the funeral of their secrets. She’s asked museum staff to remember stolen paintings, blind people to describe the most beautiful thing they’ve seen. And although the work seems apparently dry - images and texts, books - it's deeply personal for those involved, and for us - the viewer.

In this BBC Radio 4 programme, Frances Morris, Director of Tate Modern, meets French artist Sophie Calle in her studio in south west Paris.

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