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Voir la mer © 2017 Sophie Calle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo by Caroline Champetier.
Voir la mer © 2017 Sophie Calle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo by Caroline Champetier.
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A Powerful Video Installation Will Take Over Times Square Every Night This October

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 16 October 2017
Each night in October from 11:57pm until midnight, Times Square will transform into a sprawling exhibition space for a poignant, five-part video installation by world-renowned French artist Sophie Calle.

On October 1, three minutes before midnight, Times Square will host the New York City premiere of Voir la mer (“To see the sea”).

A short, five-part video installation by celebrated French conceptual artist Sophie Calle, Voir la mer follows Calle as she leads five Turkish residents to see the sea for the first time.

Voir la mer © 2017 Sophie Calle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo by Caroline Champetier.
Voir la mer | © 2017 Sophie Calle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo by Caroline Champetier.

“I took them to the shore of the Black Sea,” the artist explains of her project. “They came to the water’s edge, separately, eyes lowered, closed, or masked. I was behind them. I asked them to look out to the sea and then to turn back towards me to show me these eyes that had just seen it for the first time.”

According to Vice, Calle had traveled to Istanbul in 2010 to execute a commission for the European Capital of Culture. There, she found a newspaper article about a group of central-Turkish residents who, despite living some 15 miles away from Istanbul (a city surrounded by water), had never seen the sea before.

Thus Calle embarked on her next project, Voir la mer, which allows audiences to watch the sincere reactions of five people experiencing the sea for the very first time. Each experience constitutes a single video portrait, which will be “magnified on Times Square’s electronic billboards,” the press release explains.

Voir la mer © 2017 Sophie Calle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo by Caroline Champetier.
Voir la mer | © 2017 Sophie Calle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Courtesy of Sophie Calle and Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Photo by Caroline Champetier.

Voir la mer is part of the 2017 edition of the Crossing the Line Festival, presented by the French Institute Alliance Française and the Times Square Advertising Coalition.

The Festival will run from Sunday, October 1 through Tuesday, October 31 on Times Square billboards from 42nd to 49th streets between 7th avenue and Broadway.