Death, Mom, and the Palais de Tokyo

affiche_sophiecalle_daphneFrench artist Sophie Calle’s latest exhibition is about death. Nowhere in Paris could be a more appropriate place to view it than the underground tomb of one of the city’s slickest alternative art spaces. The Palais de Tokyo plans to clean out, re-paint and re-open its cavernous basement as an additional exhibiting space in 2012. But for the moment the 9000 square meters, created just before World War II for the World Expo, remain unrenovated. And it is precisely this cavernous and rough-edged charm that has provided the ideal background for the intensely personal collection of notes, photos, and home movies that recount the life and recent death of Rachel Monique, the mother of Sophie Calle. But the artist doesn’t worry that making these objects public would have annoyed her mother; in fact she thinks she would have been rather delighted. “My mother’s life never really appeared in my work,” Ms. Calle said. “That annoyed her. She loved to talk about herself. I put my camera at the foot of the bed where she lay dying, because I wanted to be there, to hear her last words,” she added. “She said ‘finally’.”

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