Les Nouveaux commanditaires

Nya Uppdragsgivare
Nuovi Committenti
Nuevos Comanditarios
Taiteen Uudet Tukijat
De Nieuwe Opdrachtgevers
New Patrons
Die Neue Auftraggeber
Komanditario berriak

Le Geste de deuil
Christelle Familiari

Patrons - Fanny Delfau, florist
Geneviève Fessler, nurse coordinator in EHPAD
Sophie Olivereau, palliative care physician
Mediator - Éric Foucault, Eternal Network
Supporters - Fondation de France (action Nouveaux commanditaires)
Fondation des Artistes (Commission mécénat)

Taking care of the living to take care of the dead.

 In Europe, during the 20th century, signs of mourning were gradually forgotten (from clothing to black crepe worn as a brooch) and have almost disappeared in the 21st century. In 2017, a florist wanted to call on an artist to design a contemporary sign of mourning. At a time when it seems that death is no longer taboo in our societies, there is sometimes a tendency to evacuate death and no longer make it a solemn moment of existence. In order to carry out this reflection in a broader way, the florist called on the action of New Patrons and joined forces with a palliative care doctor and a nurse from an Ehpad to form a group of patrons. Each of them, in the course of their work, is confronted with the grief of bereaved people. 

Éric Foucault, the mediator of the New Patrons, suggested that they meet the artist Christelle Familiari, whose approach has the capacity to create interactions between people through the simplicity of a gesture and a material. The commission is not just about designing a sign, it is also about freeing up speech and starting a discussion.

From 2017 to 2019, Christelle Familiari met with the patrons and her research resulted in a sign of grief that the patrons approved.

The director Maud Martin filmed all the meetings in order to document this collective work and leave a trace of it. 


A humble and recognisable object artwork

In 2018, following the presentation of her research to the patrons, Christelle Familiari oriented her choice towards a material of mineral origin, metal, which recalls, by its materiality, the continuous presence of the dead among the living. The object is made of brass. The weight of this material gives it contentment when it is in the palm of the hand, between the fingers, like a presence. The "imperfection" of the form, between finesse and rusticity, gives it a handcrafted look. By its organic aspect, it could be reminiscent of a bone, a pebble... The metal will oxidize and patina, causing a change in colour: this question of time is an important dimension in the duration of mourning.

I thought of this object with a certain roughness, something very sensitive to touch. It reminds us of skin, wrinkles, fingerprints..., but also of something that leads us to an archaeological object... On the lower part, the shape is softer: I wanted it to be comforting to touch.

The simplicity of this shape would allow it to be instantly recognised and associated with mourning (as the red ribbon refers to AIDS research). At the same time discreet in size, it has the preciousness of a piece of jewellery, but the sobriety necessary to pay tribute to a departed person. The gesture of offering it to a bereaved loved one would say: "we are with you".

The question of the object's visibility has often been discussed with the patrons. Christelle Familiari wants to give everyone the possibility of imagining their own way of wearing the object. It can be associated with a chain: so one can choose to show it or to put it behind the collar of one's clothes. In the box is provided a clip that allows you to pin it; you can also sew it or carry it in your pocket...

The production of the object was carried out by the atelier Huguenin (Paris). It seemed important to us to call upon a jewellery craftsman so that the Mourning Gesture would retain the properties of the prototype, but also because the person at the origin of the project is herself a flower craftsman!

Le Geste de deuil goes on sale in the winter of 2021-2022.

This project is supported by the Fondation de France, through the New Patrons action. 

It was also selected by the Fondation des Artistes' patronage commission, which gave it its support. Since 2011, the Fondation des Artistes has been providing production support for long-term projects to encourage their development, particularly in the preparatory research phase.