Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sophie Calle's Burial Project

I was having dinner with Amelia last night and she mentioned a series from Sophie Calle that she saw at her retrospective in Brussels this past summer. Calle was invited with several other artists on an expedition of the North Pole and posted this blog entry about burying her mother's jewels as far north as they would travel.

"She had a dream. Go to the North Pole. It was a part of our life: One day she would go. She died two years ago having preserved her dream. I guess that’s why she never went. I never had this dream. It was hers. But I was invited to go to the North Pole. And may be I went a little for her. To take her there."

Sophie Calle's image of a portrait of her mother, her necklace and ring.

When burying objects at earthworks, I knew they would not stay underground forever. Calle discusses this too when she writes, "I wonder if her glacier will advance or retreat, if the climate changes will carry her to the sea to be taken north by the West Greenland current, or retreat up the valley towards the ice cap, or if she will stay on the beach as a marker in time where the glacier was in the holocene period. And maybe in thousands of years, specialists in glaciology will find her ring and discuss endlessly this flash of diamond in Inuit culture. Or if a treasure hunter or beachcomber will discover it and exchange it for a house in the mountains of Grenoble."

There is an obvious difference in value between the objects Calle buried and the ones that I did. On the other hand, if someone found the photograph in tact (unlikely), there would be a direct identification between owner and their possessions. More often than not, I wonder what state the cup, belt buckle, and pile of papers would be in if indeed someone unearthed them. For the most part, I want them to be disintegrated beyond recognition as a stack of newspapers would be prone to do but not necessarily a porcelain cup or plastic Eiffel Tower.

The Disko Bay expedition sounds phenomenal after reading through the list of participants including Laurie Anderson, Feist, Suzan-Lori Parks, Nicole Krauss, and so on. Now that's the residency we need to get Nancy!!

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