Take Care of Yourself
534 W 21st Street
NEW YORK—The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present the first U.S. exhibition of Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself, a body of work created for the French Pavilion of the 2007 Venice Biennale. The show will open on 9 April 2009 and will remain on view through May at 534 West 21st Street.
I received an email telling me it was over.
I didn’t know how to respond.
It was almost as if it hadn’t been meant for me.
It ended with the words, “Take care of yourself.”
And so I did.
I asked 107 women (including two made from wood and one with feathers),
chosen for their profession or skills, to interpret this letter.
To analyze it, comment on it, dance it, sing it.
Dissect it. Exhaust it. Understand it for me.
Answer for me.
It was a way of taking the time to break up.
A way of taking care of myself.
In this “tour de force of feminine responses…executed in a wild range of media,” Sophie Calle orchestrates a virtual chorus of women’s interpretations and assessments of a breakup letter she received in an email. In photographic portraits, textual analysis, and filmed performances, the show presents a seemingly exhaustive compendium with contributions ranging from a clairvoyant’s response to a scientific study, a children’s fairytale to a Talmudic exegesis, among many others. Examining the conditions and possibilities of human emotions, Take Care of Yourself opens up ideas about love and heartache, gender and intimacy, labor and identity. 107 women (including a parrot) from the realms of anthropology, criminology, philosophy, psychiatry, theater, opera, soap opera and beyond each take on this letter, reading and re-reading it, performing it, transforming it, and pursuing the emotions it contains and elicits.
Since the late 1970s, Sophie Calle has made work that investigates provocative and often controversial methods for confronting her emotional and psychological life. She is well-known for her sleuth-like explorations of human relationships, which led her to follow a stranger in the streets of Venice and document his every move, or to find work as a hotel chambermaid in order to photograph the belongings of the hotel’s guests. Calle’s work has been shown in international venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Museum Boymans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo), among others.
Take Care of Yourself was first presented at the French Pavillion in the 2007 Venice Biennale. It traveled to the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (4/1 – 6/7/08) and to DHC/ART, Montréal, Canada (7/4 – 10/19/08). It is scheduled to continue traveling to various international venues, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, in 2009 and 2010. In addition, the artist will have one-person exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery in London (Oct. 2009), the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (5/26/09 – 9/13/09) and the DePont Foundation, Tilburg, The Netherlands (1/16/10 – 5/16/10).
A catalogue titled Take Care of Yourself was published by Actes Sud in 2007.