The Elevator Resides in 501


This book is not yet published, but will be available from September 2022.

ISBN: 9782330159481 Category:

Sophie Calle, Jean-Paul Demoule


Between 1978 and 1981, Sophie Calle went on a clandestine exploration of the then abandoned Hôtel du Palais d’Orsay. She selected room 501 as her home and without any pre-established method, set about photographing the abandoned hotel over 5 years. As she explored, she picked up items she found: room numbers, customer reception cards, old telephones, diaries, messages addressed to a certain “Oddo” and more besides. What happened to room 501? More than 40 years later it has disappeared and an elevator has taken its place. At the invitation of Donatien Grau, the Musée d’Orsay curator, Sophie Calle returned, equipped with a flashlight, to explore the site again during the lockdown period. She hunted down the ghosts of the Palais d’Orsay, now connected to the present by the visitors that had also deserted the museum. The work reconstructs the artist’s archive of photography, letters, invoices and other daily items which bring a forgotten past back to life.

To provide commentary on her discoveries, Sophie Calle called upon the archaeologist Jean-Paul Demoule, who writes a series of texts combining fact and fiction. All this evidence has been assembled together to create an objet d’art which resembles an investigation notebook.

Additional information

Weight 300 g
Dimensions 22 x 27 cm
Publisher name Actes Sud
Publication date 30 September 2022
Number of pages 392
Format Hardback
Dimensions 22 x 27 cm
Weight 300 g


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Since the early 1970, Sophie Calle has created a number of exhibitions around the world. She has been described as a conceptual artist, photographer, video-artist and even detective and has developed her own distinct modus operandi, combining text and photography to tell of something deeply personal. She is considered one of the greatest artists of the 21st century.

The archaeologist and prehistorian, Jean-Paul Demoule is an emeritus professor in European protohistory at Paris I University (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and an honorary member of the Institut Universitaire de France. He specializes in this history of archaeology, its ideological constructions and its social role.