above: The Hotel, Room 28
Sophie Calle - The Hotel (1981)
Known for documenting the private lives of strangers, 'The Hotel' is perhaps one of Calle's most well known works. Most of Calle's work involves creating an archive of human traces + identity in a voyeuristic way, almost always in secrecy without her subjects knowledge. With 'The Hotel', Calle got a job as a chambermaid for several weeks in Venice. During this time she explored the possessions + habits of the guests, documenting their belongings through photographs, scribbling down parts of diary entries, postcards + letters and then describing what she thought the people were like in an almost obsessive + clinical manner. The photographs were then presented in frames alongside selected diary entries, each entitled with the hotel room number.
I think everyone has a bit of a voyeur inside them, particularly with things like Facebook + twitter, even blogger, where you can follow or even stalk people that you know/don't know + basically find out everything you could ever think of knowing. the difference is within the distance, in this piece Calle is physically there, going through people's laundry, reading their diaries + letters - privacy here is obviously an issue but on the other hand isn't it something that we partake in ourselves, perhaps not to the same extent or even intentionally, but its easier to hide away behind a computer screen. Maybe Calle's approach is more honest.
below: The Hotel, Room 47
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