Salle des Departs
Hopital Raymond Poincaré
Garches France
Opened 29 October 2002
Permanent installation

The Hopital Raymond Poincare in Garches, near Paris, is famous for treating road injury victims.   Every year 450 deceased people pass through its morgue, and after 40 years of conducting autopsies and talking to bereaved families, chief pathologist Doctor Michel Durigon decided it was time to create a Salle des Departs, a place where families and friends could come to say goodbye to their loved ones without, as he says, "having to suffer sickly background music and a red carpet".

The result was a commission for a groundbreaking piece of art: a room designed by Italian artist Ettore Spaletti, and later a musical soundscape commissioned from Robin Rimbaud.

The luminous impact of this space proved a catalyst to the creation of this work. Consciously avoiding cultural or spiritual reference points, the work uses many personal recordings, of rainfall, birdsong, footsteps through snow, rowing in a boat, voices lost in the ether, through which a diffused piano melody slowly fades into the foreground, then softly retreats at intervals.

The bereavement suite is a moving and inspirational work about an extraordinary humanitarian project.