Coming to One's Senses: Diaries and the Materiality of Mourning in Sophie Calle's Rachel, Monique


  • Sonia Catherine Wilson University of Sydney



diary, mourning, the sensory, Sophie Calle


After a woman's death certain material objects, commonly referred to as 'personal effects', remain. Diaries are sometimes among these. This essay focuses on the trajectory taken by one mother's diaries in particular, examining the shifts in meaning effected by the circumstances in which they are passed on to the daughter and by their subsequent emergence into the daughter's work in 2012. Since her mother's death in 2006, the internationally established writer, photographer and installation artist Sophie Calle has staged a series of installations consisting of material markers of mourning. The diaries enter this installative series in 2012. This essay investigates how Calle's engagement with the diaries dialogues with existing cultural representations of The Mother's Diaries and explores the effects of their display on conventions of mourning and exhibiting practices.


This article was submitted to EJLW on 29th of August 2015 and pubkished on 27th of April 2017.


Author Biography

Sonia Catherine Wilson, University of Sydney

Sonia Wilson is a Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Sydney. She is the author of Personal Effects: Reading the Journal of Marie Bashkirtseff (London: Legenda, 2010) and is currently working on the intersections between diary writing and photography.