Sandwich Sound System
Radouane Nidam grew up in Sanitas, a working class neighbourhood of Tours, where he had gone through some difficult times. He wished to enter the world of work by having his own mobile sandwich bar. To start up he was supported by the mediator of the Service d'Amorçage de Projet (BG RILE Touraine – a service to help individuals set up their own business) who placed him under financial supervision for three months, based on the enterprise incubator principle, and by an official in the city's policy-making body, Mohamed Moulay. Radouane Nidam acquired a van and since July 2010 has been selling sandwiches in the heart of the neighbourhood in which he lives. The Conseil Général also helped him to buy equipment, and the City of Tours facilitated his establishment in the neighbourhood. From July to December 2010, Radouane was given a permit to sell every day at specified times in Sanitas. As work on the tram line was to start in January 2011, after filing an application for a new selling spot, Radouane hoped to be able to carry on his business. He wanted to be able to sell close to a high school or university. The mediator of the Service d'Amorçage du Projet saw Radouane's example as one of the initiatives that made him proud: having assisted a young person in difficulty to set up his own business which was starting to generate profits after three months, and gradually enabling this person to become autonomous. In the framework of the artistic projects that the Eternal Network local non-profit in Sanitas wanted to launch, Mohamed Moulay was presented with a short-list of artists. When he learned of Julien Celdran's approach, Mohamed Moulay thought that a graphic intervention like Celdran's could add symbolic, aesthetic and communicational value to Radouane's sandwich bar. Eternal Network was interested in this suggestion and offered to support Radouane in a New Patrons project to have his vehicle decorated.
At the time of the commission, the sandwich bar was a 3-metre long trailer resembling a small mobile pizzeria, with an opening on the side and a sort of counter. The vehicle was all white, with the odd sticker representing sandwiches, as well as a menu with the prices. Radouane wanted an artistic intervention to add aesthetic and symbolic value to his vehicle; a work that – apart from the communicational aspect – would personalize it, both as his working tool and as something distinguishing him. Radouane pointed out that despite its small size, this vehicle had become a symbol and a reference point for some young people in the neighbourhood and especially those of his generation. He added that it belonged to him as much as to his customers. Radouane wanted the graphic intervention to be representative of Sanitas, and to personify his vehicle in this sense. He did not wish to influence the commission in any other way and preferred to leave Julien Celdran with a carte blanche, on the basis of mutual trust. Moreover, Radouane has in the meantime acquired another, bigger vehicle; a hybrid between a van and a green grocer's stall. Reparations are underway and Radouane would like to use it in parallel with the little sandwich bar. Julien Celdran has envisaged a graphic intervention for this vehicle as well. Eternal Network is going to combine Radouane's desire with a project that the non-profit association is busy running in the same neighbourhood, also with Julien Celdran, who is going to decorate the large plate glass window of the Sanitas centre social (not a New Patrons project). * BG RILE = Boutique de Gestion – Réseau d'Initiatives Locales pour l'Emploi (management centre of the network of local employment initiatives).
Julien Celdran covered the four sides of the trailer with a composition in adhesive vinyl. Set in an urban context with buildings represented as sound system loudspeakers, he proposed an unusual, even irreverent, encounter: that of the allegory painted by Delacroix in Liberty Leading the People, with the crowned Lion, symbol of Haile Selassie's throne taken up by the Rastafari movement. Putting these two apparently distant figures together is highly eloquent. As popular symbols of the reappropriation of public space (and therefore of the political space), they are both reminders that the acquisition and enjoyment of freedom remain a struggle. The reference is clearly to the heritage of decolonization encountering the advent of the Republic, and thus to equality between people and between peoples. The collusion of signs is amplified by the inversion of the colours of the two flags: French and Ethiopian. This representation of interaction and cohabiting is certainly what best expresses the idea that Radouane has of a French identity. A graphic profusion of intertwined symbols, where Arabic decorative motifs are mixed with representations of sandwiches. Julien Celdran's work is deliberately chaotic. The vehicle that now personifies Radouane is also a reflection of our society, in which several cultures and social origins have come together.