New Patrons

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The New Patrons
of Tours, France

Julien Celdran, Sandwich Sound System, 2011, Tours, France

Les Nouveaux Commanditaires

Sandwich Sound System

Patrons: Radouane Nidam, a trader and resident of Sanitas associations,

Mediators: Éric Foucault (Eternal Network),

Artists: Julian Celdran,

Cooperation Partners and Sponsors: Fondation de France, Suivi du projet (BG RILE Touraine, Service d’Amorçage de Projet),

Duration: - – 2011

Julien Celdran, Sandwich Sound System, 2011, Tours, France

Les Nouveaux Commanditaires

Julien Celdran, Sandwich Sound System, 2011, Tours, France

Les Nouveaux Commanditaires

Radouane Nidam grew up in Sanitas, a working-class neighborhood 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. He received startup assistance from 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. Nidam bought a van and started selling sandwiches in the heart of the neighborhood in which he lives in July 2010. The Conseil Général also helped him to buy equipment, and the City of Tours facilitated his establishment in the neighborhood. From July to December 2010, Nidam was given a permit to sell every day at specified times in Sanitas. As work on a tram line was to start in January 2011, after filing an application for a new selling spot, Nidam 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 de Projet saw Nidam’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 independent. In the framework of the artistic projects that the Eternal Network local non-profit in Sanitas wanted to launch, Moulay was presented with a shortlist of artists. When he learned of Julien Celdran’s approach, Moulay thought that a graphic intervention like Celdran’s could add symbolic, aesthetic and communicational value to Nidam’s sandwich bar. Eternal Network was interested in this suggestion and offered to support Nidam in a New Patrons project to have his vehicle decorated.

At the time of the commission, the sandwich bar was a 3-meter-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. Nidam 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. Nidam pointed out that despite its small size, this vehicle had become a symbol and a reference point for some young people in the neighborhood and especially those of his generation. He added that it belonged to him as much as to his customers. Nidam 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 Celdran with a carte blanche, on the basis of mutual trust. Moreover, Nidam has in the meantime acquired another, bigger vehicle; a hybrid between a van and a greengrocer’s stall. Repairs are underway and Nidam would like to use it in parallel with the little sandwich bar. Celdran has envisaged a graphic intervention for this vehicle as well. Eternal Network is going to combine Nidam’s commission with a project that the non-profit association is running in the same neighborhood, also with Celdran, who is going to decorate the large plate glass window of Sanitas’s social center (not a New Patrons project).

Celdran covered the four sides of the trailer with a composition in adhesive vinyl. It depicts an unusual, even irreverent, encounter set in an urban context with buildings represented as sound system loudspeakers: that of Delacroix’s allegory of “Liberty Leading the People” with the crowned lion, the symbol of Haile Selassie’s throne, taken up by the Rastafarian 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 conjunction of signs is amplified by the inversion of the colors of the two flags: French and Ethiopian. This representation of interaction and cohabiting is certainly what best expresses the idea that Nidam has of a French identity. A graphic profusion of intertwined symbols, where Arabic decorative motifs are mixed with representations of sandwiches, Celdran’s work is deliberately chaotic. The vehicle that now personifies Nidam is also a reflection of our society, in which several cultures and social origins have come together.

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