/18 Family

Anne De Gelas


«An (almost) perfect day»

T., my lover and father of my son, died on April 5, 2010 of a brain stroke. He fell beside us on a beach at the North Sea. The violence of his death put me in front of a big void…a silence that echoed in my head only equal to the brightness of the blue sky which no planes crossed because of the ashes of a volcano in anger, my anger.

To face that loss, I plunged myself into the work that I had started more than 10 years ago consisting in writing a personal diary, now focussing on telling about my suffering but also about that surplus energy that burst within me.

I could recognise that experience – although intrinsically personal – in the words of others who came to me to share their own experience of death and mourning. Those wounds are hard to tell and seldom find a sympathetic ear, even though it is so important to do so because the deceased recover a bit of life when we speak about them.

This work has helped me to release the powerful desire and the anger that burst among my despair. Mourning is an experience of life and love that I tell taking into account all those contradictory aspects: grief, family changes, sudden loneliness, anger, being face to face with the ones remaining, day- to-day life, physical absence, exhaustion, bright intervals, changes, resistance.

Self-portraits very soon became a necessity, first because I needed to be looked at either by myself or by the camera which tried to replace the look of the loved one, but also because it was like a proof that I was still alive. My approach to self-portraits wants to be a mirror of a violence that befalls upon us. My work also deals with the new relationship that appeared between my son and myself, complicity as well as confrontation, a relationship both sweet and violent.

It’s most probably a therapeutic process to overcome my own pain, a convalescence. My work has always dealt with daily events both simple and moving which I wanted to highlight. This work is both a continuation and a sudden stop. Nevertheless, just as I wished, during exposure, I realised that it went beyond my own personal history and touched others, in such a way that the very meaning of the mourning is broadened.