This is an exploration of Sophie Calle’s 2007 body of work: Take Care of Yourself
The work contains both images and video excerpts portraying an emailed letter to the photographer from a lover who chose to end their relationship via email, in which he tells her to ‘take care of yourself’.
Using 107 women, Calle does just that, she asked psychoanalysts to analyse the email, cartoonists to draw out how it felt, actresses to perform it and authors to write books about the email.
From the book, Take Care of Yourself;
I received an email telling me it was over:
I didn’t know how to respond.
It was almost as if it hadn’t been meant for me.
It ended with the words, “Take care of yourself.”
And so I did.
I asked 107 women (including two made from wood
and one with feathers), chosen for their profession or skills,
to interpret this letter.
To analyze it, comment on it, dance it, sing it,
Dissect it, Exhaust it, Understand it for me.
Answer for me.
It was a way of taking the time to break up.
A way of taking care of myself”
This type of narrative is very interesting, it is both meta fictive and multi narrative.
Meta fictive in the sense that there are stories being told about the email, without exclusively showing the email, their backstory as a couple and the backstory of ‘X’ the writer of the email, this makes the reader question if the story is true or is indeed just made up for the purpose of the project. The above example featuring Meriem Menant, a clown shows her performing the piece, with her own reactions to the way it was written. This is a very organic narrative as the backstory of the email falls into place only when you see a second or third performance of the email, recognising the same words and the way it has been written. Some of the women featured also created small books, eponymous with the story of Sophie Calle and her lover such as the short novella; The letter by the French romance writers Anne & Marine Rambach.
This is also multi-narrative as many different viewpoints and stories are told all relative to the fact that Sophie Calle received a break-up email. I could utilise these factors in my own work on anxiety by producing images which all surround one particular trigger or around a behaviour that I exhibit during a panic attack such as leaving the house and finding several different ways to portray this.