The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) is energetically continuing the exciting new programming launched with its 50th anniversary as it hosts an exhibition by renowned artist Sophie Calle (b.1953, Paris). For the Last and First Time is a two-part exhibition by the French conceptual artist, one of the most important artists of her generation.
This show, which reveals great artistic sensibility, consists of two projects: The Last Image (2010), a series of photographs accompanied by texts, and Voir la mer (2011), a series of digital films.
These two bodies of work are in some way a continuation of a piece produced by Calle in 1986, titled The Blind. In that case, the artist asked blind people to describe beauty. One of them answered: “The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is the sea, an endless sea.” It was in Istanbul, years later, that Calle chose to pursue her poetic investigation of blindness, beauty and the sea. The installation, accompanied by the soothing sound of waves, first presents The Last Image, a series of photographs, tinged with melancholy, for which Calle asked people who had lost their sight suddenly to recall the last thing they saw. For Voir la mer, she managed to find residents of Istanbul—a city surrounded by water—who had never seen the sea. She filmed each of these captivating, memorable maritime encounters.
The presentation at the MAC is emblematic of the approach followed by an artist who, in works with complex narrative threads, gives universal resonance to subjects rooted in real-life experience.
“I went to Istanbul. I spoke to blind people, most of whom had lost their sight suddenly. I asked them to describe the last thing they saw.” (Sophie Calle on The Last Image)
“In Istanbul, a city surrounded by water, I met people who had never seen the sea. I filmed their first time.” (Sophie Calle on Voir La Mer).