Never before published in its entirety in English, The Address Book is a key and controversial work in Sophie Calle’s oeuvre. Having found a lost address book on the street in Paris, Calle copied the pages before returning it anonymously to its owner. She then embarked on a search to come to know this stranger by contacting listed individuals—in essence, following him through the map of his acquaintances. Her written accounts of these encounters with friends, family and colleagues—juxtaposed with Calle’s photographs—originally appeared as serial in the newspaper Libération over the course of one month in 1983.
As the entries accumulate, so do the vivid impressions of the address book’s owner, Pierre D., while also suggesting ever more complicated stories as information is gifted, parsed, and withheld by the people she encounters. A multitude of details, from the seemingly banal to the potentially revelatory, are not only collaged into a fragile and strangely intimate portrait of Pierre D.; they also accumulate into a collection of miniatures of the people around him as they reveal something, often unknowingly, of themselves. Further layering The Address Book is Calle’s first person narrative in which she interrogates herself—her fears, obsessions, and assumptions—over the course of her pursuit.
When Pierre D. learned about the work and its appearance in the newspaper, he threatened to sue (and demanded that Libération publish nude photographs of Calle as a reciprocal invasion of privacy). Calle agreed not to republish the work until after his death. In the almost thirty years since its original publication in France, The Address Book has never been published in full again, only described—in Double Game, Calle’s monograph which converses with Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan, and again in the novel itself as a work thought up (but not executed) by the fictional character Maria whom Auster based on Calle.
Part conceptual art, part character study, part confession, part essay, The Address Book is, above all, a prism through which desire and the elusory, persona and identity, the private and the public, knowledge and the unknown are refracted in luminous and provocative ways.
This is the first trade publication in English of The Address Book (Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles released a suite of lithographs modeled on the original tabloid pages from Libération in an edition of 45). Designed in collaboration with Calle, Siglio’s book has the physical weight and feel of an actual address book, creating an intimate space that allows the story to unfold and be savored by the reader.
Publisher: Siglio Press
Size: 5.25 x 7"
104 pages, 26 b/w + 2 colour illustrations
Publisher's price: £22.95