Friday, 2 November 2007


In the late 50s a telephone box was located in Mojave Dessert. It was really isolated, about 15 miles from the nearest highway. Miners had it just in case something happened. Weird. Loads of films, short stories and songs are related to this dusty piece of land. So it was about time someone noticed the decrepit phone box. In the 90s it became a pilgrimage place. During years loads of people phoned there and talked to strangers about the weather, about their lives or miseries. It doesn´t exist anymore.
Being creative involves fascination for little but powerful universes as the Mojave´s telephone box. “Appropriationism” say the art writers.

At the very beginning of the year I went to Paris with one purpose in mind: follow the traces left on the city by the French artist Sophie Calle. I was working on her artworks for my PhD so I got really excited about the fact of poking around her new stuff.

Calle was ruminating for some time about Mojave´s mistery phone. So she decided to create with a little help of her friend F.Gehry a telephone box in the middle of a bridge on a dessert area of Paris. She is the only one knowing the telephone number and she calls five times a week in order to try to speak to strangers.This will last two more years…

Critics are still roaring. This installation belongs to a Public Art Project to promote a new tram on a quite abandoned area of Paris. Money, money. Who is going to be wandering around the phone box at night? And what about mornings, when everybody is supposed to be working?

When I got of the train all I could see was a bright isolated shape in the middle of one of the ugliest bridges I´ve ever seen. Getting closer I got dissapointed because of the colours and materials. Once there I phewww… It was fantastic. Lots of messages, stickers, telephone numbers… The project was alive. And furthermore, people (from around the world) were absolutely respectful with the artist´s ways. So their words had the resonance of Calle´s and their anonimity, a little bit of her voyeuristic nuances.

“Le téléphone” is a lively sculpture. Nobody knows what are all the registered conversations about. Maybe she´s not even calling. Who Knows. Madmoiselle Calle is slick as hell and tricky.
I should close this post in a different way. But I prefer to leave it like it is now. This was just an excuse to talk a little bit about Calle and to show the pics I took there.


Annie-o said...

Well-done! What a great article, I'm Googling Calle right now!

Your piece leaves me daydreaming of an Alternative Scope reunion in Paris! Keen?

Elsinki said...

Anything you want to know about her... we became twins last year!

I didn´t end the article but I met quite a lot of strangers that helped me with my research. (Some of the messages left were really mad)
While working on her I got in touch with a Canadian artist called Vera Greenwood. I shall write about her, she is really special and has been so kind to me.

I have a love-hate relationship with Paris but why not!
Time to keep on blogging!

Gavrilo said...

Hmm, perhaps if it were a reverse charge type affair then there might be an uproar.

A good article Elena. It brings to mind a post-apocalyptic future where people are desperately trying to contact anyone that could still be out there...