Perrotin is pleased to present My mother, my cat, my father, in that order a solo exhibition by Sophie Calle, the first at the Tokyo gallery, and the sixteenth since the start of the collaboration with the artist in 2001.
The exhibition coincides with the presentation of Exquisite Pain at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, twenty years after the artist's first exhibition in the museum. Parallel to these exhibitions, Sophie Calle presents the series Parce que (Because) at Gallery Koyanagi and Voir la mer is featured on the 4 electronic billboards overlooking the iconic Shibuya crossing at midnight.
Sophie Calle is one of the most famous French artists on the international scene. For the past forty years, her work has blended the written word, the photographic image, performance, video, in an ongoing to and from between the narrative and the real, the private and the public. Sophie Calle narrates herself through texts, photographs, objects-elements that act as supports for these stories and that contribute to the development of an individual mythology.
Among other things, the exhibition presents a series of recent works (2012-2018) from the series Autobiographies. They relate to the artist's mother, father and cat, all of whom died in recent years. These works plunge viewers into the private sphere while maintaining a relation to the real that is marked by a certain distance. Combining framed texts with photographs, the Autobiographies maintain a dialectic between the visible and the sayable. As Christine Macel explains, who curated her exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, 'for [Sophie Calle] art is above all a matter of words. It is what cannot be seen, but what can be said, photography serving to show what cannot be said'.
This is the case for the work My mother, my cat, my father (2017), which combines a road sign marking the 'END' of a road with a text on the last days and death of her loved ones, or for Today my mother died (2013), which associates phrases drawn from the artist's diaries and her mother's with a sculpture of a recumbent.
The Autobiographies constitute one of the artist's most famous series. Since 1988 they have been put on display around the world: Musée d'Art Moderne and Musée d'Art Contemporain de la Ville de Paris, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Sprengel Museum of Hanover among others.
Série Noire (2017) partakes in the exhibition. The starting point of this series is the titles of detective novels published in Gallimard's Série Noire collection. Works such as On efface tout (Let's start over), Quand me tues-tu (When do you kill me ?), Adieu la vie... (Farewell, life ...) and Comment vivent les morts (How do the dead live) cohabit with a text in which the artist raised the question of bereavement and of the different ways of dealing with the loss of a loved one, including the act of deleting their contact details: 'What do you do with your dead? In your diary, do you write 'dead' beside their name? Do you draw a cross, a tomb? ...' This literary genre is here associated with these questions in order to deal, not without irony and a certain distance, with death and mourning, themes that permeate the exhibition and the artist's recent works.
The last series of the exhibition, Souris Calle, is presented for the first time in Japan. For this project, Sophie Calle called on forty musicians and singers: each composed a piece in homage to Souris, the artist's cat, who died in 2014. The resulting compilation takes the form of three records, at once an object hung in the exhibition space.
Sophie Calle is familiar with authorial games, collaborating occasionally with writers (Paul Auster, Doubles-jeux) and artists (Greg Shephard, No Sex Last Night), among others. Here Sophie Calle stretches even further the notion of author in order to share a mourning and the celebration of a loved one. The art critic Yve-Alain Bois claims that Sophie Calle 'shares with the melancholy grieve who, to contain their grief, transform the loved one they lost into an ideal of perfection.' This monomania can take several forms: for instance, Exquisite Pain (1984-2003)-presented concomitantly at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art-and Take care of yourself (2004-2007). The result of a collaborative protocol with musicians, the project Souris Calle becomes an act of resilience to fill the void left by her cat. Souris Calle is more than a musical compilation, it is a complex work that creates a unity through the absence. Along with the solo show, Voir La Mer, Calle's celebrated video work showing the first time of the people who have never seen the sea in Istanbul viewing it, is featured on the 4 electronic billboards overlooking the iconic Shibuya crossing between midnight and 1am from February 3rd to 9th.
Sophie Calle's work has been exhibited in many international museums. In 2019 the artist will have several solo exhibitions, among others at the Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art in Chile, in five museums in Marseille, at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, the Kunstmuseum Thun. A retrospective of her work took place at the Musée d'Art Moderne-Centre Georges Pompidouin Paris in 2003, then at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst in Aachen. In 2007 Sophie Calle represented France at the 52nd Venice Biennale; the exhibition Take care of yourself then travelled to twenty museums around the world: the Festival d'Avignon (2012), the Castello di Rivoli in Turin (2015), etc. Several solo exhibitions have also been devoted to Sophie Calle at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico (2014), the Kirchner. Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires (2015), the Musée d'art contemporainde Montréal in Canada (2015),the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in Aichi (2015), the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (2016), the La Virreina Centre de la Imatge in Barcelona (2016), Fort Mason in San Francisco (2017), the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris (2017) and Château La Coste in France (2018). Sophie Calle won the 2010 Hasselblad Award in Photography and the 2017 ICP Infinity Award.
Press release courtesy Perrotin.