Contemporary readings

SOPHIE CALLE and her guest Jean-Paul Demoule


From March 15th to June 19th, 2022 -
Musée d'Orsay
Esplanade Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
75007 Paris
Map & itinerary
Sophie Calle, Orsay, 2020
© musée d'Orsay / Sophie Crépy
In the deserted Orsay train station and hotel, Sophie Calle has chosen an abandoned room, 501, as her shelter. The year is 1978. She spends entire days, for months, experiencing the desolation of a place, like an archaeological space where everything has been abandoned. “The Ghosts of Orsay” is the total work of her return.

In 1978, the Orsay station and its hotel were deserted. The construction of the future museum has not yet begun. It is at this moment that Sophie Calle pushes open a door and chooses as her shelter an abandoned room, 501. She spends entire days there, for several months, before her departure for Venice, which will mark the beginning of her future work. During this stay, she feels the desolation of a place, like an archaeological space where everything has been abandoned. She takes photos, invites her friends, collects documents, objects, the records of the clients that are so many open lives, the notes addressed to an employee of the hotel, named Oddo, whose identity she imagines.


”The Ghosts of Orsay" is a total work by Sophie Calle, weaving a permanent back and forth between her beginnings and the whole of her creation: one finds in it the multiplicity of forms she adopts, from photography to poetry, from the ready-made to composition, to collaboration, and her unique ability to weave narratives, to permanently hold together the personal journey and the multiplicity of a place, of a story, and of each and every one of us.


Visitors to the museum will return to the now-defunct hotel, just as Sophie Calle immersed herself in the museum after experiencing the hotel. The exhibition will reveal the ghostly ensemble of the Musée d'Orsay, where the ghosts are those of all the people and works that have passed through it. It will allow us to feel the depth of a place and the very texture of the museum, at once immediately present, seemingly temporal, and yet having changed so much through Sophie Calle's life - through forty years of collective life.


At the suggestion of Donatien Grau, advisor to the Presidency of the Musée d'Orsay and the Musée de l'Orangerie for contemporary programs.



The exhibition is now over.

See the whole program