The evolution of a brand

Conversation with Sabine Delafon, curator of the Milan pavilion

For the Amsterdam Biennale performance artist Sabine Delafon created a special exhibition with her Sabine Delafon Corporation. It opens on Saturday 21 November at Mediamatic from 20:00 hrs, along with the pavilions of Rome, Copenhagen and Taipei.


Curator Sabine Delafon at the Milan pavilion - Curator Sabine Delafon, paint on her hands at the Milan pavilion, Nov 21 - Dec 13 in the Amsterdam Biennale 2009 at Mediamatic. Raphael Rehbach

'PERFORMERS NEEDED FOR SABINE DELAFON,' writes Martin Butler on Facebook, in an attempt to collect people who want to wear Sabine Delafon's t-shirts during the opening of her Milan pavilion Saturday the 21st of November. Delafon is an artist from France who often makes performative works and currently lives in Milan. She also lived in Turin, Grenoble, Paris and Lyon. Delafon is not very talkative. She takes her time to think about answers, and sometimes she has trouble expressing her thoughts. The mystery is intensified by her slender silhouette, timidity in behavior and French accent. In 2008 she celebrated the 10th birthday of her artistry, by spreading traditional obituary posters on the walls of Italian cities. For the Amsterdam Biennale she made a collection of previous projects, with t-shirts ('Sabine Delafon t-shirt', 2006) and a questionnaire (2000). New are a golden medal ('SDC Gold Medal', 2009) and a stamp (2009).

Can you tell something about your work?
'I began my artistic career as an expressive photographer in the nineties, but later my work became more conceptual. In the Questionnaire project of 2000 I examined the influence of the name of a person on his or her life. People had to answer some questions like what's your name?, do you believe in something? and do you have a myth? It was an exchange between me and the others. I put the questionnaires in an archive, so I could see all the similarities between the persons who shared the same name.'

'The t-shirt project in 2006 created a community by letting different people wear the same t-shirts, with my name on it. For another project, 'Searching my double', I spread 3000 posters with various pictures of myself in New York, Rome, Milan and Paris to look for my double. A lot of people reacted, but nobody looked the same as me. Actually I was not disappointed in that. There is a superstitious belief in Italy that when you find your double, you find death... In 2008 I did this project again, but in another way.' She shows me a classic Italian obituary poster with a four leaf clover on it. 'Like vampires are afraid of garlic, death doesn't like the four leaf clover.' Delafon used the concept of the obituary poster ironically to celebrate her 10th birthday as an artist, with 'Sabine Delafon. 1998-2008' on it.

You are very focused on themes like time and death...
'I feel everyday life is very quick. Tomorrow I can die. I make the artworks to remember and so that you can see me, that you can enter my life. The Sabine Delafon Corporation, a collaboration with other artists, is also a life after death. Like Coco Chanel: it's a brand in evolution. The brand lives on after the death of the creator. My work is not very commercial. It's more searching...'

Searching for what?

At the opening of your pavilion people are going to wear your t-shirt, that you made in collaboration with the Italian stylist Marios. What is the difference with the project of 2006?
'I don't know if at the Amsterdam Biennale I can expect something more than that people wear my t-shirt. I hope so. Maybe someone likes my work and wants to work together in the future. That's why I don't use models for my project, or people I already know. When you speak to somebody, you're going home with something more. I hope it can lead to the evolution of something, not the end of a project.'

Opening of the Milan pavilion on Saturday 21 November in Mediamatic Bank, Vijzelstraat 68. Doors open: 8 pm.