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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Final Major Project: Considering Others – Sophie Calle

Like Sophie Calle, I am interested in the boundary between our private self and our public identity. In her work “Calle has blurred the boundaries between private and public, between photographer and photographed, and between viewer and participant.” – (Edwards 2014: Abstract)


Figure 1: Sophie Calle. 1998. Des journées entières sous le signe du B, du C, du W. BB.

Calle has considered and investigated patterns of behaviour by playing the part of a private investigator amongst others. She has also looked at her own behaviour. She has used her experiences of her life, both as she has lived it and as she has imagined it, to inform her work. Her work merges fiction, fantasy, performance, and documentary. The viewer is unsure if the work is meant to be voyeuristic or theatrical in nature.

Her work ‘The Birthday Ceremony’ shows us how we construct our identity around rituals that we hide from others. These include forms of self-indulgence and self-denial. We surround ourselves with objects that have meaning. We carry out activities that give substance to our private and public identities.


Figure 2: Sophie Calle. 2007. Prenez soin de vous. Comptable, Sylvie Roch.

The resultant works are Calle’s way of holding up her mirror to show us human behaviour. We test that behaviour obsessively with public rituals that we construct and follow to mask who we are from others. With the ever-increasing emphasis on our online personas, our lives become more and more public on social media. The boundary between our private selves and our public identities becomes ever more blurred and difficult to distinguish as we traverse further into the virtual world.


EDWARDS, NATALIE. 2014. “Accumulation and Archives: Sophie Calle’s Prenez soin de vous”. In Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature, 38(2).

HAGAN, SEAN. 2017. “Strangers, secrets and desire: the surreal world of Sophie Calle”. the Guardian [online]. Available at: [accessed 1 March 2018].


Figure 1: BARBIERI, CLAUDIA. 2012. “Sophie Calle: Tapes, Diaries, and Burial Plots”.[online]. Available at: [accessed 1 March 2018].

Figure 2: Sophie Calle — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes. 2018. AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes [online]. Available at: [accessed 1 March 2018].

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