Please Follow Me

April 8, 2011

I’m working on a series of essays about conceptual artist Sophie Calle. I’m responding to some of her real life rituals and trying them out myself. One of her first works was following people around Paris. When she returned home from her travels in 1979 she said, simply, that she was bored and had no friends so she started following people.  It was a way to rediscover the city she’d grown up in, one that she was already so dully familiar with.  It turned into a way to relax, a kind of meditation. “Establishing rules and following them is restful,” is how she puts it. “If you follow someone, you don’t have to wonder where you’re going to eat. They take you to their restaurant. The choice is made for you.” It’s interesting to me that following someone would put the power in their hands, not hers.

Go to a familiar place in your city or town. Follow someone on the street. Try not to pick someone who is interesting or attractive, just follow the person who first crosses your path. Describe them. Write about your experience. Did you feel like you lost control? Write about what they show you about the landscape you thought you knew.