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Artist Brings Exhibit About Mother's Death to UES Church

 Photographer and conceptual artist Sophie Calle is known for her deeply personal projects.
'Rachel, Monique'
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Sophie Calle, a photographer and conceptual artist known for her deeply personal works, will open a show chronicling the loss of her mother Friday at an Upper East Side church.

“Rachel, Monique,” running at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest through June 25, is the latest iteration of Calle’s ongoing project to capture her mother’s life and death from cancer in 2006.

“My mother liked to be the object of discussion,” Calle said in a statement for the show. “Her life did not appear in my work, and that annoyed her.”

That all changed when Calle’s mother was dying. Calle set up a camera at the foot of her mother’s bed for fear that she would pass away in Calle’s absence. As the artist recalled it, her mother loved the idea. 

“She exclaimed, ‘Finally!’” Calle said in the statement.

The show includes photographs of Calle’s mother, as well as the artist’s film about her dying, “Couldn’t Capture Death.” The installation is accompanied by a soundtrack of readings from Calle’s mother’s diaries, which she kept from 1980 to 2000.

The show is named for Calle’s mother, Monique Sindler, who also used the name Rachel at various points in her life. 

Calle has exhibited different versions of the project beginning in 2007, when she showed the film at Venice Biennale. Since then, the exhibit has appeared at the Palais de Tokyo in 2010 and the Festival d’Avignon in 2012.

Calle is known, and sometimes criticized for, mining deeply personal experiences to create her art. One of her best-known installations, “Take Care of Yourself,” asked women to interpret an email that Calle’s boyfriend had sent to her abruptly ending their relationship. She organized their responses into a multimedia exhibit for the 2007 Venice Biennale.

“Rachel, Monique” is set up in the church’s chapel and will be open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays. The project, which is a collaboration with the Paula Cooper Gallery and the Galerie Perrotin, is a first for the church, which sees the show as a spiritual exploration.

“This show is a reverent and elegant tribute to the experience of death and loss, common to every human being,” Rev. Elizabeth Garnsey said in a statement. “As a church that believes the spiritually ineffable is often best expressed through art, we are pleased to be invited into ‘remembering’ with her by hosting this deeply felt work.”