cover image The Address Book

The Address Book

Sophie Calle. Siglio (Artbook, dist.), $29.95 (104p) ISBN 978-0-9799562-9-4

Distinguished French writer and artist Calle investigates the construction of identity and how we are perceived through the eyes of others in this quirky, thoughtful work. Available for the first time in English since its controversial French publication in 1983, the book documents how, after stumbling across a lost address book belonging to a stranger named Pierre D., Calle sets out to understand its owner. She goes through his contacts randomly and arranges interviews to learn about Pierre: his likes and dislikes, personality, and past. As the book moves through Calle’s narration of each interview, a touching portrait of Pierre, an aspiring filmmaker, emerges. Calle, who is known for her explorations of privacy and the connections between strangers, composes a character study rendered through shifting perspectives on a brilliant but lonely individual. The project resembles a real-life detective story, though one refracted through the voices of friends and acquaintances, as the man himself remains a mystery and obsession for Calle. Accompanying the interviews are photographs that create an atmosphere of loss and absence as we see Pierre and his environment only from oblique angles. Printed to resemble an address book in its own right, the volume and its contents yield an experimental work of art that has emotional and intellectual heft as it blurs the tenuous line between fact and fiction. 26 b&w and 2 color illus. (Oct.)