The Sleepers

Sophie Calle

Translated by Emma Ramadan

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$48.00

clothbound, 6 x 8 in.
304 pages, 176 bw illus
978-1-938221-32-3
forthcoming November 2024
preorders ship in early October

code SLEEP gets 20% off

PDF Press Release

In one of Sophie Calle’s first artistic experiments, she invited friends, acquaintances, and strangers to sleep in her bed. Twenty-seven people agreed, among them a baker, a babysitter, an actor, a journalist, a seamstress, a trumpet player, and several painters. Calle photographed them awake and asleep, secretly recording any private conversations once the door closed. She served each a meal, and, if they agreed, subjected them to a questionnaire that probed their personal predilections, habits and dreams, as well as their interpretations of the act of sleeping in her bed: was it a curiosity, a game, a seduction, an artwork, a job? The result, comprising her first exhibition in 1979, was a grid of 198 photographs and brief texts.

Unlike the original installation, this artist’s book iteration of The Sleepers contains not only all the photographs and captions but also her engrossing, novella-like narrative, untranslated until now. Clothbound and pillow-like, the book unfolds as it opens, inviting the reader to join the others in Calle’s bed.

From the single, liminal mise-en-scène of her bedroom, Calle chronicles the sleepers in text and photos, as if in real time, as they inhabit the bed. Their acute and sometimes startling, sometimes endearing particularities accumulate: The Sleepers is as much an outré report on the nature and act of sleeping as it is something like an eight-day-long dream.

Many seeds of Calle’s subsequent works are embedded in The Sleepers: her exacting and transgressive methods of investigation, her cultivation of intimacy and remove, and her generative and unrelenting curiosity. But in this work, as she observes the sleepers, they observe her too: they speak with reciprocal candor, presaging her insouciance and resolve as she detonates boundaries in the works that follow.

about the author

Sophie CallE (b. 1953) is an internationally renowned artist whose work often fuses 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—books, photography, film, writing, performance, and 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. Most recently, she was invited to occupy the Musée national Picasso-Paris where in 2023 she staged the large-scale, multifarious solo exhibition À toi de faire, ma mignonne. A limited retrospective Overshare opens at the Walker Art Center in October.

more by sophie calle

The Address Book, The Hotel, and Suite Vénitienne

see also

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The HotelSophie Calle

Cover of The Hotel by Sophie Calle, Siglio.

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The Address BookSophie Calle

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Suite VénitienneSophie Calle


✼ natalie’s upstate weather report:

January 4, 2023 — Suddenly, not winter. At least for a day: sunny and an unseasonable 60 degrees. Some welcome light and warmth to offset the sadness of writing another remembrance. Two women hailed here at Siglio departed this earth at the end of 2022, a great, great loss. They couldn’t have been more different in so many ways—Bernadette and Dorothy—but both challenged the norms with gusto and persistence, also laughter and candor and insouciance, along with a little anarchy too. Nothing better than a meal with them, and of course, making a book that made them happy.

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