Wednesday, 22 March 2017

the hotel anthropologist

Venetian air deeply fills your lungs. You are stuffed with delicious food and wine. After some sightseeing through the canals, Palazzo Ducale and Burano you return to your hotel. Completely unaware of the fact that Sophie has been there. After some years you find out that someone neatly captured your belongings and clutter on camera due to art. What would you think?

The french artist and photographer Sophie Calle worked as a chambermaid at a hotel in Venice. Her delicate investigation of the rooms´ appearance made up her project The Hotel  (1981). I am fascinated by how she expresses her self like an detective, or maybe more like an anthropologist in a way.  She describes and interprets identities, narratives and psychological meaning into untidy or tidy rooms, used toothbrushes, drinks and suitcases. Through her photos and describing words an unknown story is unveiled. My imagination starts spinning, and the people staying at the rooms suddenly have a story, a life outside on holiday in Venice. 

In the same time I feel a bit ashamed. I have entered a private sphere. Calle has not asked me to enter, but in a way forced observers in  to these private rooms and areas. We tend to clean and make our homes tidy when we get visitors. These people never knew they had visitors, but still 30 years later they are observed by new and foreign interpreters and hobby anthropologists. Nevertheless, I am filled with ambivalence. My SoMe-sneaky-curious tendencies make me eager to analyze the photos and find the hidden details. In the same time it feels wrong or at least intriguing to look so closely. Maybe this is Calle´s message - to analyze unknown people forces us to stand in this ambivalence. 

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