Sophie Calle

Another artist my tutor has pointed me in the direction of is Sophie Calle, a French artist who works in several mediums including photography.  I think this fact is important as I feel there is a difference between a photographer who uses a camera to create photography and an artist who uses a camera to create art.  She is a conceptual artist.  I think its funny how that phrase is bandied about and rarely explained.  The best explanation I have come across is on the conceptual art page on Wikipedia which states  “Conceptual art is art in which the concept(s) or idea(s) involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns”.

Also “Rather than offering an appreciation of virtuoso photographic practice or distinguishing key individuals as ‘masters’ of photography, conceptual art played down the importance of craft and authorship.  It made an asset of photography’s unshakeable and everyday capacity to depict thing: it took on a distinctly ‘non-art’,  ‘deskilled’ and ‘unauthored’ look and emphasized that it was the act depicted in the photograph that was of artistic importance.”  Extract:  The photograph as contemporary art.  Charlotte Cotton.  Chapter 1, page 21.

I find with this group of artists/photographers it helps to know a little about them to understand the work they produce.  I found that on first look I failed completely to ‘get’ what they were trying to say.  If you don’t know that they care little for photographic practice its easy to dismiss a lot of it completely.  For example Calle’s series called the chromatic diet where she ate (and photographed) a diet of food of a single colour.  Here is an example.  Looking at images such as this without knowing the concept behind them is like wandering in the wilderness without a map, it’s almost impossible to get a fix on them.  Now of course you are free to dismiss it all as bull but if you are on a pathway to enlightenment you better try to understand it, even if you don’t appreciate it for your own sake.  The series called take care of yourself is, so far at least, my favorite and there is a great article on it in the Guardian here.  Its interesting I think with Calle how she draws on her own life experience to produce art.  I think that is the nub of her work really.  She sees the possibilities in everyday life, the banal & boring as worthy of art.  I find this idea strangely liberating.  The idea that all around us, in the most mundane nooks and crannies is the potential for a series of art works.

Good article on the artist here too.



About briancooney123

HOW I GOT HERE Of course, I wasn’t always a full time photographer. I spent a lot of time in the corporate world. I had a job which paid well, but just didn’t excite me. I remember the day when I had had enough. Enough of selling myself short, enough of dreaming too small, enough of doing what others expected of me. I had put away my dreams and told myself I would get back to them later, but somehow there always seemed to be something else that had to get done first. A friend of mine had recommended I take the NLP Business Practitioners course, and although I was really busy, I decided to do it. During that time, I began to imagine the different paths my life could take from here. While I had a hazy picture of what this other life might look like, I had a clear picture of where my current life was going if I didn’t change. It was a scary moment, a bit like standing on the edge of a cliff deciding whether to jump into the great unknown or stay on the cliff, safe but trapped. I jumped. The transition to the life I wanted was challenging The transition to the life I wanted was challenging but I would never go back. After that day I resolved to do what I love, to follow my bliss.  Picking up a camera after several years away, I found that many things had changed, the digital age had arrived. In the intervening years, I was too busy to pay any attention to my photography, and occasionally when I took something I really liked, I would think “how do some photographs seem so captivating and others leave me completely cold?” I knew this is what I was meant to do Somehow though, I knew this is what I was meant to do. I dedicated myself to learning everything I could about being a photographer. I took many, many courses and I read every book I could get my hands on, I still do. Since then, I have dedicated myself to helping other creative photographers achieve the results they want. And what a journey it has been. Last year I qualified as a coach. My main area of interest is creativity and helping others to express their vision. WHAT I BELIEVE Along the way, I’ve learnt that there are no rules. Experiment, explore, play. My advice is to make your art from your heart, not for the praise or the money.  Lighten up. It’s important to take your photography seriously, but it's a mistake to take yourself too seriously. Finally, you get what you want when you never, ever give up so enjoy every minute of it and just do it!
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