For Vea Collective: ‘Suite Vénitienne. Please Follow Me’ by Sophie Calle and Jean Baudrillard

As we were discussing Vea Collective‘s contribution to the ‘Flâneur’ exhibition, Christian Rodriguez asked if he could conduct his work as a fictional story referring to staged situations. Vea Collective is studying the relationship between flâneur and artificial spaces of leisure. Mona Simon recommended him to look at Sarah Moon‘s work. I believe she was referring to Sarah Moon’s tales after Andersen and Perrault’s: ‘Circuss‘, ‘Le fil rouge‘, ‘L’Effraie‘, ‘La Sirène d’Auderville ‘ and ‘Chaperon noir‘.

The discussion went on and to come back to our flâneur, I suggested to look at this concept from the perspective of the voyeur or the detective. Sophie Calle is always standing at this corner! She is well-known for following and taking photographs of people in the street of Paris in her early works. Not to mention that she has herself asked a detective to follow her in ‘La Filature‘ [‘The Shadow‘] where she developed 3 points of view (the detective / Calle / a friend).

‘In April 1981, at my request, my mother went to a detective agency. She hired them to follow me, to report my daily activities, and to proviede photographic evidence of my existence.’ Sophie Calle

I also emphasize on Sophie Calle’s work because of her artistic method of experimenting with mise en scène and giving more  importance to the artistic idea over the final artwork.

Sophie Calle is the excuse to have a closer look at a text which is particularly relevant for our research: his accomplice Jean Baudrillard’s contribution to ‘Suite Vénitienne. Please Follow Me‘.

“For months I followed strangers on the street. For the pleasure of following them, not because they particularly interested me. I photographed them without their knowledge, took note of their movements, then finally lost sight of them and forgot them.” Sophie Calle

Calle’s curiosity continues as she follows a man from Paris to Venice in February 1980. ‘Suite Vénitienne. Please Follow Me‘ is a book which contains her notes along with black and white photographs and an essay by Jean Baudrillard on Calle’s work. FYI: Baudrillard started to take photographs himself after this collaboration!

Paperback / 87 pp. / 21 x 18cm / Printed offset, photo, text / Publisher: Bay Press, 1988 (originally published in 1983 by Éditions de l’Étoile and Les Cahiers du Cinéma, Paris). UNFORTUNATELY OUT OF PRINT!!

I have dug up the original translation into English of Jean Baudrillard’s essay. It has been reproduced in ‘The Jean Baudrillard Readerby Steve Redhead (Columbia University Press, 2008). Not that everything is directly related to the concept of the flâneur, it is such a delightful prose though. Publishing this text here is not at all copyright-friendly, so before I remove these pages in a couple of days while I am seeking permission… Enjoy!

yasmina reggad

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