Waiting for Sophie 1, in Waiting for Sophie, Factory 49 Paris (cotton string on nails on wall, 210cm x 210cm). Waiting for Sophie 1 is an enlarged drawing of Sophie Taeuber-Arp's ‘Composition verticale-horizontale’ of 1916 (pencil and gouache on paper, 21cm x 21 cm, Stiftung Hans Arp und Sophie Taeuber-Arp e.V (003.101) (sourced from an image by Wolfgang Morell in the catalogue, Sophie Taeuber-Arp Today is Tomorrow, Aagauer Kunsthaus, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Scheidegger & Spiess, 2014). Photo: Philippe Hirsch (image assisted by line tool)

Waiting for Sophie opens at Factory 49 Paris, 10 rue de Chaligny 75012 Paris, on Wednesday 19 December 2018 at 6-8pm, and then be open Thursday - Saturday 1-7pm until 29 December.


Waiting for Sophie is an exhibition of wall drawings of paintings made a century ago by Sophie Taeuber-Arp.  She completed them then with colour, and the wall drawings in Waiting for Sophie wait now for you to complete them with your arrival. You can be Sophie’s colour now.

The three paintings drawn in Waiting for Sophie were each made in 1916 and each titled by Taeuber-Arp as ‘Composition verticale-horizontale’. Their wall drawings are made up to 12 times the size of the original paintings. They have the scale of visitors, having expanded from Sophie’s hand and visitors’ eyes into the company of our bodies as well. Waiting for Sophie is part of a larger project of stepping historic works back from completion.

Waiting for Sophie montre trois dessins muraux réalisés en 1916 par Sophie Taeuber-Arp et intitulés ‘Composition verticale-horizontale’. Ces dessins que l'artiste a ensuite complétés par la couleur attendent aujourd'hui que vous les complétiez avec votre arrivée. Vous pouvez à présent être la couleur de Sophie.

Les dessins ont été agrandis à douze fois la taille des dessins originaux. Ils sont à l’échelle des visiteurs, s'étant étendus depuis la main de Sophie et le regard des visiteurs vers la présence de notre corps. Waiting for Sophie s’inscrit dans un projet plus vaste visant à reprendre des travaux historiques.


The wall drawings in Waiting for Sophie have a little in common with Franz West's Adaptives which, when making the drawings, I had just seen at the Pompidou Centre. Their similarity is in being artworks in which the important place is the physical space and bodies of visitors. While not being so directly interactive as the Adaptives, Waiting for Sophie asks us to wait in the same physical place in which they are located for Sophie to arrive to complete them.

Also, in simplifying Taeuber-Arp's paintings into drawings, they became like musical scores. In discussing this with Sophie Taeuber-Arp scholar, Gabriele Mahn, I realised that this may reflect Taeuber-Arp's interest in music and dance. Later, a visitor to Waiting for Sophie, Federico Guerin, saw a resemblance in Taeuber's works to the dance scores of Rudolf Laban, that she would have known well. These discoveries gave the drawings an implied choreographic role in the physical space they share with visitors that is derived from Taeuber-Arp, as well as from my own different intentions, which is in part to give the drawings' location an important role in the work.

This work is part of a larger project in which historic works are stepped back from completion by being converted into drawings or other incomplete forms, hoping to confuse past and future, art and life etc. and to also give greater regard to an artwork's location because that it is where its purpose can be realised.

These are documented here, adapting, in 2017, Sophie Taeuber-Arp's 1934 painting Moving Circles as Sophie's Circles, in which her circles are enlarged by artist Melissa Staiger, and distributed among audiences to literally move them around Times Square in New York City.

They are also documented here, adapting (in 2015 and later) Katarzyna Kobro's 1928 Spatial Composition 2 in several forms for audiences to complete or wait to watch others doing so.

They are also documented here, adapting Marcel Duchamp's 1,200 Coalbags of 1938, in 2005, into a form in which audiences are invited to wait for the artist to come by to complete the work or decide to make it again themselves. Helena Almeida's Inhabited Drawing of 1975 is adapted here, and others on following pages.

This project has evolved from earlier installation work that was documented in beautiful images that nevertheless also delete the physical location that they were designed to engage with and recognise. The reconstruction/waiting project evolved partly to explore this problem.


Sophie's Circles, Sophie's Costume, 96 and Dance