Instructions from Sophie Calle
I was in love with him, but he had decided to leave me. To soften the break-up, he suggested a farewell trip of one week in Seville. I liked the idea though it seemed painful. So I accepted and we went. On the last day, seeing my tears, H. told me a secret. It was a terrible secret, which had poisoned his life. And he was confiding it to me. Only to me. At the very moment he was depriving me of his love, this man offered me, through his confession, the ultimate proof of our intimacy.
H.’s secret remained untold, and so will the ones you’ll share with me on April 29 and 30. I’ll be waiting to receive your secrets near a tombstone dedicated to them on Bay Grove Hill, in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.
I’ll listen to you and jot down your secret before placing it in an envelope. Or, you’ll write down your story beforehand, read it to me, and then seal the envelope yourself.
I won’t take any pictures.
I won’t know your name.
I might keep a memory of your story, but it will remain anonymous.
You’ll slide your secret through the slot at the base of the tombstone.
If you know me and prefer to keep your story from me,
or if you prefer to confide directly in the grave, then there’s no need to visit me.
This cemetery plot has been granted to me “in perpetuity,”
which means the project will continue for 25 years.
Every few years, when the grave fills up with secrets, we’ll organize a ceremony to burn those remnants that managed to survive the elements and the passage of time.
A simple request: to ensure that the day is pleasant and poetic, I would be grateful if we could forgo selfies, autographs or any other requests not strictly concerning your secret.
Due to crowd size and time limitations, not all visitors will be able to interact directly with Calle. Admittance will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. For those who are unable to speak to the artist, or who wish to keep their secrets to themselves, you may deposit your secret directly into the monument over the inaugural weekend, or any day thereafter for the next 25 years.
(Photo and text by © Sophie Calle. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery & Perrotin, ARS, New York, 2017)