Sophie Calle, “Exquisite Pain” from the Hara Museum Collection

January 5 (Saturday) – March 28 (Thursday), 2019

When Sophie Calle held the exhibition Exquisite Pain at the Hara Museum (1999-2000), the response was huge. It was the first solo show at a Japanese museum for the internationally acclaimed French artist. The work was acquired by the Hara Museum immediately after the show ended and is now being presented in its entirety, occupying the entire museum again after a hiatus of 19 years.
“Exquisite pain” refers to the pain of a broken relationship that Calle experienced. In this work, the story of her pain and recovery is told through photographs and texts. Letters to her most beloved person and photographs of the days up until the fateful day of the breakup comprise “Count down” (part one). The gradual recovery that she achieved by sharing her story with others and listening in turn to theirs comprise “Count up” (part two). The unfolding of this story and her encounters with other clearly touched the hearts of many viewers. Through it all, however, runs a fuzzy distinction between fact and fiction which underscores the danger of unquestioning belief. It is a work that will surely provoke many questions in the viewer’s mind.

Who Is Sophie Calle?
Born in Paris in 1953, Sophie Calle is a French contemporary artist who has won fame for work that is often controversial and evocative. For the project The Sleepers (1979), Calle photographed and interviewed 28 strangers whom she had invited to come to her home and sleep in her bed. For The Hotel (1981), Calle worked as a chambermaid at a hotel in Venice where she photographed the rooms of the hotel guests. For The Address Book (1983), Calle interviewed the people listed in an address book that she found in the street and then published the interviews in the French daily newspaper Libération. In the 1990s, she embarked on a series of works on sightless persons beginning with The Blind. It was a profound exploration into the nature of sight and perception which lies at the very foundation of art. Calle′s work inspired the author Paul Auster to model a fictional character named Maria Turner after her in his novel Leviathan. Calle in turn assumed the personae of Maria Turner in an installation she created called Double Game (1998). These works, which push the boundaries of contemporary art, remain a focus of much attention today. Calle has held solo exhibitions at major museums throughout the world, including the Tate Gallery (1998) and the Pompidou Center (2003-2004). In 2017, Calle held a solo exhibition in France that was much-talked about for its unusual venue, the Museum of Hunting and Nature. In Japan, she has held several solo exhibitions, including two at the Hara Museum: Exquisite Pain (1999-2000) and For the Last and First Time (2013), the latter of which traveled to the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (2015) and the Nagasaki Prefectural Museum of Art (2016).

Exhibition Details
Title: Sophie Calle, “Exquisite Pain” from the Hara Museum Collection
Dates: January 5 (Saturday) – March 28 (Thursday), 2019
Place: Hara Museum of Contemporary Art 4-7-25 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 140-0001
Tel: 03-3445-0651 E-mail: Website: 
Venue / Organized by: Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
Hours: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Wednesdays until 8:00 pm (except March 20) (last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Closed: Mondays (except January 14, February 11), January 15 and February 12
Admission: General 1,100 yen; Students 700 yen (high school and university) or 500 yen (elementary and junior high); Free for Hara Museum members, students through high school every Saturday during the school term; 100 yen discount per person for groups of 20 or more; a 100 yen discount with the Hara Museum ARC ticket.
Directions: 5 minutes by taxi or 15 minutes on foot from JR Shinagawa Station (Takanawa exit); or from the same station take the Tan No.96 bus, get off at the first stop (Gotenyama), and walk 3 minutes.
Guided tours: Free Japanese-language tours are given by a museum curator every Sunday and national holiday, starting at 2:30 pm and lasting about 30 minutes. No reservation is required. Free mini-tours in English are also available upon request.

*The French publication Douleur Exquise will be available in the Museum Shop. This volume includes an English insert available only at the Hara Museum.

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