Interview #60

Sabine Delafon

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).

Sabine Delafon (Grenoble, 1975). Her work was featured at Benahdj Djilali (Berlin); Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Guarene); Santa Monica Art Center (Barcelona); Castello di Rivara (Rivara); Museo Pecci (Milan), Ex Carcere Sant’Agata (Bergamo); The Art Markets (Milan); Museo Villa Croce (Genoa); Mediamatic (Amsterdam); Vkunstfrankfurt (Frankfurt); Edisyon (Istanbul); Carrie Haddad Gallery (New York).

Which symbols characterized your work until now?

There are many faces, portraits of me and many other people, symbols such as blue stars, red hearts, green four-leaf clovers, writing (names, signatures, love phrases) and glass. I like to present them in a white world. But it could change.

What impressed me the most when I entered the studio is Be Careful!, your assemblage series of glass with formaldehyde, lights and chimerical cylindrical structures. How did you get there and why don’t you carry-on this dreamy production?

This work originates from when I was a child and collected ‘boule de neige’ glass bowls. In 2000 I started building some of them with glass vases and glasses. These manufactures-assemblies have increasingly become bigger and bigger. To this day the largest is bigger than 2 metres. My projects have variable time-schedules, they live in the long run: passport photos of a life time, thousands and thousands of four-leaf clovers, stars everywhere, signatures, writing and glass totems. Like seasons, there are periods when I work more on a project rather than another.

Entering your studio one immediately notices Testament and the business card triptych The End, how does the signature procedure work?

I’ve started this project in 2010 and I’m carrying it on to this day: I ask other artists to sign my business card, this first step is called Testament. It is a work on the value of signatures, moreover on an artist’s signature. In 2014 I began working on a series of my business card with the signature of a dead artist, this work is called Perfect Lovers. Then I tracked the artists who signed my business card to ask them to make their own card that I’ll sign. This third step is called Full Circle. This closes the The End triptych. Only at this stage the work can be sold.

We heard that now you are working on the series Ho Fame. Can you give us some more detail about how and how you chose these signs as a starting point?

Since 2014 I’ve been buying ‘I’m Hungry’ signs from homeless people. I believe that hunger is actually a shared human condition: whether it is hunger for food, love, beauty, culture, affection, traveling, everyone is hungry for something. Like with the business cards, the sign, the writing really attracts me. An abyss between the two projects, which like all opposites, are actually very similar: making money through one’s own sign. Then cause-effect links and relations between people are created. With Ho Fame I decided to create and economical circuit making artist multiples: posters, t-shirts and plates, which can be found on It is an operation that strives for a possible balance between giving and having, the right, the ethical, the balanced.

Stars is also one of your artist books where you asked many of us to write star-themed texts.

Like with all my projects in involving other people, I asked and will ask who I think is suitable, interesting and potentially interested about writing a text about stars. Stars is an open book and, exactly like I did not invent the blue star, but I simply made it mine, the theme of stars belongs to everybody and basically anyone could talk about it in their own way.
I didn’t create the blue star, I made it mine, it is the symbol that represent me. I paint it on the walls of the city, then I shoot them to make postcards (which is a medium I’m using for another mail project). Circle of blue stars printed on a mirror referring to the European flag, or the crown of the Madonna. Blue stars on t-shirts, a recurring medium in my work (with my name or with the reproduction of homeless’ signs).

Also for what concerns the Sabine Delafon Corporation t-shirts you sent some emails inviting everyone to come round your studio and wear them, what kind of feedback did you receive?

The first Sabine Delafon t-shirts date back to 2006. At the time it was a performance in a container on the streets. Passers-by were invited to wear this t-shirt and have their picture taken. There was then a performance in 2008 in Amsterdam: it was the then Sabine Delafon Corporation who wore them. The t-shirts at the time were made by Marios. It’s always touching seeing someone wearing this t-shirt. How can I say, I never get used to it. It does not say anything in particular, but it is destabilizing, strong. I like it!

We are here in the North of Milan, between Central Station and Pasteur, this area reminded me a little of the neighborhood where I used to live in Paris, how do you like it and why did you choose it? Do you have any reference points in the area for your daily routine? How does Milan influence you? Where and with who could we find you on a normal Friday night?

Yes I like the neighborhood. I like via Ferrante Apporti, along and underneath the rails. I like the Friday market, Piazza Morbegno is very nice and Cinema Beltrade, in front of my house, is the best in Milan. The Paolo Nava print house, which I often collaborate with, the Stefano Dugnani laboratory, and I am happy that a number of galleries are opening in this neighborhood. There is a lack of water in Milan, I have to get away often to face this dearth. Here people go out to a restaurant or a venue instead of meeting at a friend’s house, I miss that. Anyway, some friends of mine are coming up with a radio station, so mostly, on a Friday night, we meet in the studio before going out.

The contemporary artistic practice can be perceived as a relatively solitary practice, how you little girl Napoline is part of your day?

In 2005 I developed a work where I was looking for my doppelgänger. The following year Napoline was born. I believe that she is my doppelgänger now. But this is very delicate. My personal life deeply affects my work and vice-versa.