Art Imitates Life

Your boyfriend dumps you. He does it in a rude and self-serving way. You are an artist. How do you take it? Do you hide and nurse your hurt until it is over? Many artists would, but not Sophie Calle. She’s a French artist who work is the talk of the Venice Biennale.

Calle is one tough cookie with an eye for art. She turned her job as a Venice chambermaid into art by taking pictures of the personal disaray people leave behind in rooms. That should have been the tip-off for the cad who dumped her.

calle take care of yourselfCalle sent the email to 102 people to interpret it–editors, psychologists, etiquette experts, even Talmudic scholars–and assembled the answers and insights into a large installation. On the left is a photograph of “Emma the Clown,” part of the exhibition. (See photo credit below.) The exhibition is called “Take Care of Yourself,” after the ending line of the email. There are videos, too, and the entire event has been gathered into a book she’s selling for a well-worth it $100.

What makes this so wonderful is the fullness of life that Calle let herself experience and the healing that came from it. It makes an engaging project, a completely new view of life as art, and an interesting (and new) definition of art.

Image: from the Washington Post, which carries the cutline and photo credit: Sophie Calle’s “Emma the Clown” interprets a breakup e-mail that Calle’s ex-boyfriend sent her, in the artist’s installation “Take Care of Yourself.” (Galerie Emmanuel Perrot; Arndt & Partner; Koyanagi; Gallery Paula Cooper)

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and personal creativity coach. See her work at (c)2007. All rights reserved.