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Friday, June 17, 2011

Following Sophie Calle

Lounge area at the Walker
I love this room. For me it embodies its setting--Minneapolis, Minnesota 
where snow and ice are likely to be part of the environment half the year.

I took break from my home improvement chores the other day--an art break. The Walker Art Center is one of those museums I could go to over and over again. Iconic modern masterpieces. Surprising temporary exhibitions. This visit I spent almost all my time at a traveling exhibit called Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870. Here's a quote from the Walker's website, "Exposed offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. Investigating the shifting boundaries between seeing and spying, the private act and the public image, the exhibition reveals the myriad ways photography has brought to light the forbidden and the taboo. Homing in on sex, celebrity, violence, and surveillance, it provokes an array of uneasy questions at the intersection of both power and pleasure."

There were photos from Brassai's series "Secret Paris of the 1930s." And more photos of people in Paris by Henri Cartier-Bresson. But I think one of my favorite parts of the exhibit was a series of photos by Sophie Calle, a French photographer, writer, and installation artist that I've written about HERE. The photos I just saw at the Walker are a project of hers called The Shadow. Ms. Calle had her mother hire a private detective to follow her for a day while she went various places in Paris that were personally significant for her. She wrote journal entries throughout the day, and these are included in the project, too She wanted photographic evidence of her own existence, she said.

The are so many significant days in a person's life. People and places that are like the sun to us as we revolve around them. Would we see them differently if we had a photographic record of them? Would we see something new? Change our minds about someone or something? What would that surveillance expose? Would it change us?

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