Friday, November 9, 2012

Sophie Calle | The Address Book

Sophie Calle
The Address Book
Los Angeles, USA: Siglio Press, 2012
104 pp., 19 x 13.5 x 1.4 cm., hardcover 

In 1982, Calle discovered a lost leather-bound address book on the streets of Paris. She returned it, anonymously, to its owner but not before copying the pages for herself. Curious about the man, she began arranging meetings with the people included in the book, and asked each of them about "Pierre D". These 'interviews' (with family members, friends, former lovers) and observations were then published in the French Newspaper Libération, over the course of a month. 

Unsurprisingly, when the subject of this investigation caught wind of the project, he was outraged at the invasion of his privacy. He threatened to sue her and went so far as to demand that the paper print a naked picture of Calle in retaliation. The artist agreed never to reprint the material again, until after his death. While the work has previously existed in other forms (Paul Auster used some of the material in a novel, a series of lithographs based on the project were available in an edition of 24) the 2012 Siglio Press edition is the first comprehensive collection of the now thirty-year old material. 

It's available for $29.95 from the publisher, here

I found an address book on the Rue des Martyrs . . . I will contact the people whose names are noted down. I will tell them, “I found an address book on the street by chance. Your number was in it. I’d like to meet you.” . . . Thus, I will get to know this man through his friends and acquaintances. I will try to discover who he is without ever meeting him.
—from The Address Book
by Sophie Calle

She would set out in the dark, knowing absolutely nothing, and one by one she would talk to all the people listed in the book. By finding out who they were, she would begin to know something about the man who had lost it. It would be a portrait in absentia, an outline drawn around an empty space . . . . She wanted encourage people to open up to her when she saw them, to tell her stories about enchantment and lust and falling in love, to confide their deepest secrets in her.
—from Leviathan
by Paul Auster

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