CAN 2 Research point 2.1

Write down your responses to Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself and Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field in your learning log. How do these two pieces of work reflect postmodern approaches to narrative?

Both Sophie Calle’s Take Care of Yourself and Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field use postmodern approaches to narrative, in that both employ narratives that are non-linear and collaborative, embracing and welcoming the sometimes conflicting interpretations that collaboration brings with it. Indeed, both projects actively seek out viewpoints and contributions that are different to the artist’s own, and make them the focus of the work.

This is particularly the case in Calle’s Take Care of Yourself, for which she invited 107 women from different professional backgrounds to respond to the email her ex-lover sent her ending their relationship. The highly diverse responses included the email being shot, sung, made into a crossword and corrected for grammar, and its writer being profiled by a psychologist and evaluated by a judge. In combination they make a convincing philosophical statement about our ability to choose the way we respond to life’s challenges, and demonstrate the power of human connection and communication to solve even problems of an intensely personal nature. The individual contributions range in emotional tone from light to dark, but the overall impression of the work is ultimately celebratory and euphoric, foreshadowing #metoo as a collective statement of female assertiveness and raising a middle finger not just to this individual man but to any man who presents himself in as self-absorbed a manner as Calle’s ex.

Rickett’s Objects in the Fields is an altogether drier project, in which the collaboration between the artist and Dr Roderick Willstrop, inventor of the Three Mirror Telescope and retired fellow of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge feels like a struggle to find a common language and frame of reference. This is explicitly also how Rickett experienced the collaboration, so she has succeeded in transmitting that experience into her writing; and the images, which are reminiscent of 3d illusion works by Anish Kapoor, are beautiful. Overall, however, the work feels somewhat incomplete and unresolved, which again is probably what Rickett intended to convey and is her statement about the nature of collaboration between an artist and a scientist.

References and resources

Chrisafis, A. (2007) He loves me not. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jun/16/artnews.art [accessed 11.06.18]
Jeffreys, T. (2014) Objects in the Field. Available at http://www.thelearnedpig.org/objects-in-the-field/900 [accessed 11.05.18]
Jones, J. (2009) Sophie Calle. Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/oct/19/sophie-calle-review [accessed 11.05.18]
Photographers Gallery (2014) Sophy Rickett – Objects in the Field. Available at https://thephotographersgalleryblog.org.uk/2014/03/19/sophy-rickett-objects-in-the-field [accessed 11.05.18]
Rickett, S. (2014) Objects in the Field. Available at https://sophyrickett.com/objects-in-the-field-1 [accessed 11.05.18]
TateShots (2008) Sophie Calle – Take Care of Yourself. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9E4dA0EGaM [accessed 11.05.18]