Sophie Calle’s Artsy Way of Dealing With a Breakup

If you need some help getting over someone you could play this on repeat, watch this little gem,  or check out Kim Gordon’s rap playlist for the recently traumatized.

You could also get a publishing deal and art exhibit out of your pain, like Sophie Calle did.

Here is an example  of a female artsy personality type who got creative and productive after getting dumped (next article will be on a male artsy personality who also got creative after getting dumped).

The artist Sophie Calle left for a 92 day residency in Japan. She asked her douchebag boyfriend to wait for her, but the guy got impatient, felt insecure, and found someone else while she was away.  Sophie thought about him all through her residency, sent him letters, and spent a lot of time missing him. And the day she was supposed to meet with dude again, he arranged they see each other in a hotel in New Delhi. Dude booked a room but freaked out, and pretended he had an accident (a bloody finger) to not have to face her. So he stands her up and dumps her via phone saying he already met someone else.

Sophie then stays all night staring at that red phone she spoke to asshole with, and declares that night to be day 1 of her painful biography.  28 days later, she is still hung up on asshole and writes:

28 days ago the man I love left me. for three months I’ve been looking forward to that day. It was January 25 (…) I was in room 261 of the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi (…) he was coming from Paris and I was coming from Tokyo then this message (…) He said he wanted to take me in his arms and explain a few things. Except that he didn’t. Egoism, cowardice, or plain stringiness? And the best he could come up with was this childish excuse, the infected finger (…) I hung up. I sat there for hours on the bed staring at that damned phone. The red phone.

The book she released titled Exquisite Pain  is a compilation of writing and photography before and after the time she gets dumped. Anyone who engages in obsessive-compulsive or extremely neurotic mechanisms will relate to Sophie’s honest, real account of getting over somebody. It only (yes, only!) takes her 91 days of art, photography, and talking about her breakup a lot to exorcise the pain. She spends those days collecting stories of other people who have also felt pain, and mirrors the memories of others with her own. She also spent time repeatedely asking her friends for their opinion, writing in a journal daily, and most masochistically, repeating over and over that exact moment when she hangs up the phone after asshole tells her that he met someone else.

The good thing is that after so much artistic catharsis, Sophie’s writing gets shorter and shorter as the days go by, and she begins to write less about her own pain and more about other people’s stories. Focusing on others through her pain allows her to keep moving forward until by day 98 she writes Enough and ends the book. Because we all get to that point. May it be in 7 or in 100 days.

Artsy people, your advantage is that you might get a book published or an exhibition out of your post-breakup sufferings. And, guess what, as Sophie’s account demonstrates: Once we get out of the self-pity, victimhood zone, we realize we were really not that bad off, that maybe we didn’t suffer as much as we thought we did.  Amelie Gentleman who interviewed Calle here wrote:

After three months, she was so sick of the sound of her own voice and the tedious details of her story that the incident was packed away and left to gestate. “I look back on it now and I realise that I didn’t suffer that much. In a way I feel I was really lucky, when you see how some people carry their sorrow. In the end it was an excellent deal: three months of mourning, one exhibition and one book …” she says, with only a trace of irony; Calle has an openly cynical approach to her own emotions.

Making something out of your breakup pain, using your feelings to produce, sounds like a good way to reach the best outcomes from a shitty situation. Too bad I studied Philosophy.


About Are You Hung Up

I am a trained philosopher but usually make a living teaching middle school or writing Spanish scripts for Youtube. I get hung up on things. So here is my writing about whatever I'm hung up on in the moment. I'm from Argentina and my style of writing might have too many run ons for you. Consider that too.
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