Sophie Calle – The Hotel
“Calle’s descriptions of the hotel rooms and their contents combine factual documentation along with her personal response to the people whose lives she glimpsed by examining their belongings. Each text begins with the chambermaid/artist’s first entry into the room and a notation of which bed or beds have been slept in, with a description of the nightwear the guests have left. A list of objects usually follows, as the artist transcribes her activities in the room. Calle is unashamedly voyeuristic, reading diaries, letters, postcards and notes written or kept by the unknown guests, rummaging in suitcases, and looking into wardrobes and drawers. She sprays herself with their perfume and cologne, makes herself up using the contents of a vanity case, eats food left behind and salvages a pair of women’s shoes left in the bin. Outside the room, she listens at doors, recording the occupants’ conversations or any other sounds she may overhear, and even peers into a room when the floor-waiter opens the door to catch a glimpse of the unknown guests.”
For me this work is interesting as it is an insight into the way we act in hotel rooms, a home away from home. A private space that belongs to us only temporarily. The way the residents chose or fail to orgnaise their belongings tells tales of the person, the items they take does this also. The nightwear and clothing tells tales, the attempt to tidy the room for public viewing or lack of desire to tidy at all speak volumes about the person and potentially how they view the role of the chambermaid.