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Sophie Calle: Exquisite Pain

Sophie Calle: Exquisite Pain

In a nutshell

Reading any news about art in Tokyo, it is hard to miss Sophie Calle, that her work has appeared in four different venues in February: a video installation at Shibuya Crossing (finished), a gallery show at Perrotin in Roppongi (the above photo), Parce que at Gallery Koyangi in Ginza, and Exquisite Pain: From the Hara Museum Collection. Exquisite Pain was previously shown at the Hara Museum in 1999-2000, when the museum acquired the entire collection, and is now shown again in its entirety. Calle demonstrates the pain of a romantic breakup through a countdown, using letters, photographs, and other mementos to tick off the days. The count up alternates Calle’s recounting of the breakup with painful stories and accompanying photographs from the stories of others.

The venue

The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art is a beautiful, white, Modernist building tucked away in a residential neighborhood. The slight arc of the building curves onto a sculpture garden that can be seen from the museum’s café.

English? (labels/audio guides/handouts)

All of the information is in English. (Look for the laminated text in full in English in holders on the wall.)


No photos allowed.

The feels

This exhibition takes the pain and anguish of a break-up that is usually locked within a person and lays it out in artistic form for others to experience.


Sophie Calle’s work is emotional and deeply personal. It is appealing to those interested in discovering something different in contemporary art.

How far out?

The museum is in Shinagawa. A 10 minute walk from the Kita-Shinagawa Station or a 15 minute walk from the Osaki Station or the Shinagawa JR Station (Takanawa Exit). The Gotenyama stop on the 96 bus is less than five minutes from the Hara.

How much time?

About an hour if you read all the text.

How much money?

¥1,100 for general admission.

Until when?

March 28, 2019

Rating: make a special trip, see it if you’re in the area or have some free time, see it only if you like this specific type of art

Definitely worth seeing if you’re in Shinagawa and worth a special trip if you like contemporary art.



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