The Address Book
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hardback, 5.25 × 7.5 in.
104 pages, 26 bw and 2 color
published in 2012
Most books, most artworks, are so civilized, they hardly matter. They exist in the realm of please and thank you. But art at its best is a kind of gamble with civility, with ethics, with boundaries, with good citizenship, and with the question of what we can endure in life, and death.
—Sheila Heti, The Believer
Having found a lost address book on the street in Paris, artist Sophie Calle copied the pages before returning it anonymously to its owner. She then began contacting the people—in essence, following him through the map of his family, friends, lovers, and acquaintances.
Sophie Calle’s written accounts of these encounters—juxtaposed with her photographs—originally appeared as serial in the French newspaper Libération over the course of one month in 1983. Now, The Address Book, a key and controversial work in Calle’s oeuvre, is being published for the first time in its entirety in English as a beautiful trade edition artist’s book, designed in collaboration with the artist.
As The Address Book entries accumulate, so do the vivid impressions of its owner, Pierre D., while suggesting ever more complicated stories as information is gifted, parsed, and withheld. A multitude of details—from the seemingly banal to the potentially revelatory—are collaged into a fragile and strangely intimate portrait of Pierre D.; while Calle, over the course of her pursuit, also turns the interrogation on herself, her own fears, assumptions, and obsessions.
Part conceptual art, part character study, part confession, part essay, Sophie Calle’s The Address Book is, above all, a prism through which desire and the elusory, persona and identity, the private and the public, knowledge and the unknown are refracted in luminous and provocative ways.
about the author
SOPHIE CALLE (b. 1953) is an internationally renowned artist whose controversial works often fuse conceptual art and Oulipian-like constraints, investigatory methods and fictional constructs, the plundering of autobiography and the artful composition of self. Using a range of media—photography, film, writing, performance, installation—Calle explores the tensions between the observed, the reported, the secret, and the unsaid; desire and voyeurism are often agents to expose the multiplicity of truth as well as its absence. Her most recent exhibition is at Musée d’Orsay in Paris, where she also lives and works.
“Not an object or a text but a name, a spirit: Jean Brown … The name ‘Jean Brown’ itself was, for me, the conduit of Howe’s “mystic, documentary telepathy.” When her name appeared on a citation, I sensed that this object or book had been carefully selected, cared for, considered, held.”[...]