When I think of those disastrous shows held in the ‘privatized’ spaces of the Palais de Tokyo (the worst being, in my opinion, Nivea’s show on skin, where only a work by Nicole Tran Ba Vang saved the day), it’s a pleasure to go explore the current wasteland, the empty spaces under construction on the lower floor, holding the promise of a bright future (until November 27th, only by reservation). Thanks to the Galerie Perrotin, there is currently on view a selection of works by Sophie Calle, around her mother’s death, ‘Rachel, Monique,’ a mythic and vibrant character (whose epitaph is “I’m already bored,” see the article by Jean-Max Colard in Les Inrocks, October 13 2010).
In this enchanting space, in the midst of busy construction workers in helmets, one watches the video of her death, her last breath, one finds mementos of all kinds; drawings, bouquets of flowers, and quotes (“If one day I have to disappear, I leave you my shadow that will watch over you”*). The story of the memorial trip in the Arctic is very beautiful.
For the anonymous visitor, the story is barely moving, the aura of Rachel-Monique Szyndler-Calle-Pagliero-Gonthier-Sindler: one perceives more irony than tragedy in these surroundings, but as always one admires the way Sophie Calle is nourished by everything around her to transform, to turn into a mausoleum, to effect. And that, that is very strong.
From there, passing by the somber and dank gap at the base of the Palais: in a wild garden (conceived by the group balto), a pillar suspended on a tripod, a funereal ruin as well, perhaps, a tragic monument by Benjamin Valenza.
*A fresco by Masaccio in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence shows the shadow of Saint Peter touching the sick and infirm, who heal upon its passing over them, without a touch, a glance, a word, merely the shadow (Acts, 5, 12-15).
Photo 1: Sophie Calle, North Pole (detail), 2009 / Light box, sandblasted porcelain plaque, video, screen, color photograph, frame, variable from 7 1/4 feet x 16 1/4 feet to 26 1/4 feet © Adagp, Paris 2010, Courtesy Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris ; Arndt & Partner, Berlin / Zurich ; Koyanagi, Tokyo ; Gallery Paula Cooper, NY. Other photos by the author. Being represented by l’AGAP, Sophie Calle’s images will be pulled after a month.