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Trong Nguyen, 2007

Trong Nguyen, 2007

You either love her or hate her.  It really often comes down to that with Sophie Calle and her work.  As an artist who delves into highly emotional and intimate subjects, one may read her work as either poignant or exploitative, clever or tawdry, charming or bawdy. While we generally spoke in edifying terms in class as we reviewed a number of Calle’s projects, photographer/blogger Stacy Oborn takes the opposite approach with her essay, A Practice Without Center: the Work of Sophie Calle, and in doing so evaluates modes of contemporary photographic practice that are well worth considering. Oborn tackles Calle’s possible worldview, her audience and the meaning evident in her work by analyzing Calle’s “photographic character” via the following equation:

Projects + Ideology + Temperament + Social Group + Psycho-biography = photographic character

to understand photographic character is to (1) enter a similar frame of mind [as the photographer’s]; (2) experience their photographic experience, and (3) understand it [them] in a total way. once you understand what a photographer would never do (e.g. walker evans would never make a nude), you can begin to understand the parameters of a given artist’s photographic character.

The entire article makes for great reading, and in many ways pulls the curtain back on the wizard to reveal wider interpretations of Calle’s work and the general way in which we have come to read photographs.  Check out the essay on THE SPACE IN BETWEEN.

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