The Sleepers (Les Dormeurs), detail
Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Centre Pompidou
The Sleepers is Sophie Calle’s first fully realized installation consisting of 173 photographs and 23 explanatory texts (6 x 8 inches/15.2 x 20.3 cm each photo and text unit) that document a series of situations orchestrated by Calle, in which people (friends, neighbors, strangers) allowed her to observe them as they slept. She photographed and interviewed these people - each of whom was allotted one eight-hour sleeping period in Calle’s own bed - over the course of an entire week.
Such behavior, which might have seemed intimate or slightly titillating if photographed in a single episode, becomes, when it is repeated twenty three times, of little more interest than a clinical record. Although captured in the midst of their “deepest” reveries, the subjects’ psychological states remain inaccessible to Calle’s observation and to the viewer’s gaze. Like Andy Warhol’s minimalist films, Sleep, Eat, and Kiss, Calle’s representations of the human body are aggressively anti-romantic.
Courtesy of University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive