Research point – Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ and Sophy Rickett’s ‘Objects in the Field’

Look these pieces up online (Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ and Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field).

Investigate the rationale behind the pieces and see if you can find any critical responses to them.

Write down your own responses in your learning log.

I read through the interview with Sophy Rickett’s in the appendix to the course. It would seem there was a really distinct conflict in the perceived idea of the project between Sophy and Dr Roderick Willstrop; ultimately the difference between/use of photography for art and photography for science. This comes through all the way to the creation of the large scale pieces from found or archival negatives for the final exhibition and the use of mixed media, the collaboration with Sophy creating titles and Dr Willstrop producing captions, there is a tension in the narrative. Sophy also created an accompanying text which I found on line on the Photographers Gallery blog which gives a better understanding to the project here

I have mixed feelings about the final images as they are essentially found photographs which have been re-created in large format. The project highlights the significance of the Three Mirror Telescope used by Dr Roderick Willstrop and captures a historical record of the night sky as it appeared at the time they were created. I don’t really get anything from the recreated images other than them being a historical record. I love the photograph by Sophy of the telescope. So I have to conclude that the text is in many ways, in this instance, as important if not more important to the narrative of the project, without it, for me, the images would be hard to decipher or place anywhere in time or place.

Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ is about a letter/email Sophie had received from a previous boyfriend, basically a break up letter ending in the words ‘Take Care of yourself’, she presented this letter to different women, from different professions (writers, philosophers, singers, actresses, etc) and asked them to think about how they would response, they then interpreted the response in their own unique way. The work is exhibited through mixed media formats; photography, written text, video.

• How do these two pieces of work reflect postmodern approaches to narrative?

The accompanying text for ‘Objects in the field’ shifts around in time, the story doesn’t unfold in a strict chronological format, I mean this both in the written text and through the production of the final images; the images are old, of a night sky which is completely different to the one I see when I look out of the window this evening, but by re-producing them now it has given them a new lease of life, yet the first image in the series is taken years later. So the work essentially shows a postmodern approach by challenging our view of time in storytelling from a non linear perspective. It also challenges the use of photography originally intended as a scientific method of recording the sky and turns it into photographic art.

For some weird reason it makes me think of Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap the scientist from the future bouncing about in time. As the observer I have no real distinct idea of time of place, so I am just a time traveller following the story to see where it leads me. Then my tiny mind implodes, boom! Ha! I like the idea of challenging the traditional ways of storytelling, sometimes I feel it is only done to be rebellious but done right it can lead to different, new or unique ways of communicating.

Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ completely challenges traditional storytelling and narrative by flipping the creative response through the eyes of a select but numerous observers and then converting this into the final product or project. So it is a mass of different life experiences thrown into the creative melting pot as opposed to just the experiences of the one artist, in this instance the artist Sophie Calle almost project manages the work but is not in control of the output. Its a really interesting idea. We see all of these responses but the instigator of the letter is not seen and a response to the work is not sought out (as far as I am aware).  We also have to take the ‘author’ at her word that this is a genuine letter and not one she has created herself in order to make some art – I’m not saying she would do that, I’m just saying.

So I would say it challenges the postmodern approach to narrative by using multiple streams of creative input to pull together a creative response which congeals into this one over arching project but with no definitive answer in response to the letter. So it is essentially open ended, there is a beginning, a middle but no end.


Sophy Rickett – Objects in the Field – The Photographers Gallery Blog

Stories from the Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford Sophy Rickett: Objects in the Field

TateShots: Sophie Calle – Take Care of Yourself

Museo MARCO Interview with the artist Sophie Calle about her piece Take care of yourself

Take Care of Yourself at the Paula Cooper Gallery

Quantum Leap




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