But mostly what she hoards are extracts from her life or snatches of other people's existences. Her most famous works consist of re-creating moments from other lives. She used to follow people around Paris, secretly taking photographs of them.
Once, she followed a man to Venice, found out which hotel he was staying at and tracked him, disguised in a blonde wig, for the two-week duration of his trip, taking photographs and notes. Later she got a job as a chambermaid in a Venice hotel and took pictures of the guests' messy rooms, examining the contents of their suitcases.
Calle's experiences working in Pigalle strip bars also became part of her work - she says she accepted a job as a stripper to test her own feminist principles, and she collected pictures for a series called Striptease. She was simply delighted by his response.
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Calle's notoriety was such that in Paul Auster , who had read about her projects, "stole" her character and incorporated it wholesale into his novel Leviathan. Auster's Maris "was an artist but the work she did had nothing to do with creating objects commonly defined as art. Some people called her a photographer, others referred to her as a conceptualist, still others considered her a writer, but Her work was too nutty for that, too idiosyncratic, too personal to be thought of as belonging to any particular medium or discipline Calle was thrilled by his decision to appropriate her for his book, and she in turn appropriated some of the extra details Auster had invented for Maris and incorporated them into her own life; the collaboration became another of Calle's projects.
More recently, the mysterious disappearance of a museum guard, who was last seen running barefoot away from her burning Paris apartment, became the subject of another project A Woman Vanishes, After reading in Le Monde that the missing woman, Benedicte Vincens, was a fan of her work, Calle got permission from her mother to take photographs of the charred remains of the burnt-out flat, which she exhibited alongside her text recounting the strange story.
REVIEW: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Vincens has never reappeared and her body has not been found, but the exhibit received enthusiastic reviews. Two years ago, Calle lay all night in a bed she had taken to the top of the Eiffel Tower open for a night-time cultural festival and invited passers-by to tell her stories to keep her awake. Beds appear frequently in Calle's work, prompting easy comparisons with Tracey Emin, but Calle, at 51, is a generation older than Emin, and points out that she has been doing this for much longer.
Aside from their willingness to exploit their own emotions in their art, the two have little in common. The daughter of a Parisian art-collecting doctor and a literary journalist, Calle never went to art school and only began working as an artist to counter growing feelings of boredom and aimlessness in her mids.
The Break-up Artist
The medium was selected, she admits, to impress her father, who was keen on conceptual art. He was seduced," she says. Her father remains immensely supportive of her work. Calle admits that she is given to introspection when unhappy.
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Grief is inevitably a better subject than joy, she argues. It doesn't translate so well. Do people like hearing someone's story about how happy they are? Not usually," she says. I did produce a lot but mainly it wasn't about me; I didn't feel like I needed to use my feelings. But spontaneous unhappiness is hard to come by, and when it does Calle seizes on it with delight, prodding it and examining it, until suddenly it evaporates and she can't re-create the sensation.
In a way it was very frustrating - there just wasn't enough pain and I couldn't continue to do the work once it was gone. I personally have this thing against people who swear to be movie buffs and talk of nothing but, which is coincidental considering everyone here at The Young Folks is one of those people, but make no mistake, I love them all to death! Diane was one of my favorite characters to read about, though. Her side of the story was interesting and I liked how things really built up for her before all sides of the story were revealed. Love, love, loved her! I love that she was able to make something good out of her unusual, to say the least, talent.
Steph is 20 years old, born and raised in Miami, Florida. An avid reader and aspiring author, she oftentimes wishes she were a fictional character.
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Stephanie Estrada Steph is 20 years old, born and raised in Miami, Florida. Watch live video from GamingFrogTV on www.
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