EXQUISITE PAIN is based on the work of art, ”Douleur Exquise”, by the French artist, Sophie Calle, who is known for her detective-like explorations of human relations and identity. The internationally acclaimed visual artist was last showcased in Denmark at a large retrospective exhibition at Louisiana, the museum for modern art, in 2010.

Sophie Calle has shaped ”Douleur Exquise” as a journal, where she day by day insistently retells her own calamitous love story. After 100 days, she’s expended her story, and has put the grief behind her. In a personal existential crisis, Sophie Calle chooses to circumnavigate the prevailing systems of treatment and instead reverts to mankind’s oldest form of grief therapy: the story and its healing effect.


The day she was supposed to meet him again, after 3 months of separation, she receives a telegram with his excuses for cancelling. She sits in the hotel room in New Delphi that he booked for them, and when she calls home to Paris, he tells her that he has met someone else. The pain of being left by the man she loves spurs her to ask the people she meets to tell of their most painful experiences of grief.

In EXQUISITE PAIN, Sophie Calle’s personal drama is reflected in other people’s personal tales of woe, which vary from innocent to the most gruesome experiences. This raw incision across the essence of pain makes the text both dramatic as well as lifts it to a universally relevant plane.

Photo: Thomas Petri


Text: Sophie Calle

Music: Thomas Strønen

Director/Set designer: Jacob F. Schokking

Video graphic: Jakob Thorbek

Lightning design: Frederik Heitmann



Ellen Hillingsø

Steen Stig Lommer

Solbjørg Højfeldt


EXQUISITE PAIN  was a collaboration between Holland House and Husets Teater (A Copenhagen based theater)..

EXQUISITE PAIN is supported by Wilhelm Hansen Foundation, Norwegian Composer FoundationBeckett-Foundation, Consul George Jorck og Hustru Emma Jorck’s Foundation, Danmarks Nationalbank's Anniversary Foundation anno 1968, Queen Margrethe & Prince Henrik's Foundation.