In 1984 conceptual artist Sophie Calle started a journey that would take her from Moscow to New Delhi, where she was to meet up with a lover. Little did she know that her lover would not show up, thereby ending the relationship. Calle happily recorded her trip in photos and collected travel mementos along the way, letting the excitement build. Alas, in retrospect, it was a countdown to despair. Eventually Calle got over the devastation and the phoenix derived from it was in the form of an exhibition called Exquisite Pain, made up of the photos, each one rubberstamped to denote how many days were left until the no-show. The exhibition would also become a book of the same name.
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The first half of the installation (and book) is composed of the ‘before’ travel snaps and collectibles, as well as correspondence between Calle and her lover leading up to the rupture. The ‘after’ segment is a series of hand-embroidered texts on silk, telling Calle’s story, as well as stories of heartache collected from others. More photos accompany the texts, each representing an aspect of the tale of woe.