Week 4 (Minor): Sophie Calle – The Hotel

“The Hotel” is a series of twelve different hotel rooms which were documented, in its occupied state, by Sophie Calle who was posing as a temporary chambermaid at the time. Her desire to document the lives of others and intrude on the private sphere of the unsuspecting inspired her to create “The Hotel,” pushing the boundaries of violating one’s privacy and leaving the occupants vulnerable to misinterpretation.


The way the photographs are placed suggest the order of which Calle went through the room; always starting at the bed as this is usually the first thing to greet someone upon entering. It follows a structure and takes the viewer on a tour, conjuring up a visual representation within the imagination of the occupant’s identity.


The photos are left bare, revealing a lot about the occupant leaving little room to hide. A messy bed may indicate instability or laziness. Piles of clothes would indicate either a rushed or messy individual or a group of people, possibly a family. An ironed outfit would suggest that the individual is well organised and likes to be presentable. So much assumptions can be made according to what we interpret as symbols of certain actions, traits and ideologies. However, it also poses the question of what is identity? And what are the things which help us to identify people?

Calle’s work is abnormal yet intriguing and considers a viewpoint that not many are able to capture. It is exciting to have access to the other side of someone; a side that is personal and intimate and inaccessible. It’s morally wrong and that is what gives the series its credibility and value.


Image Source: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/calle-the-hotel-room-44-p78303

References: https://www.sfmoma.org/watch/sophie-calles-voyeuristic-portraits-of-hotel-rooms/


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