By Gwladys Le Cuff
Odile Ferron-Verron’s compositions capture the formalised universe of industrial machinery in order to invent a conjectural and disturbing pictorial space where derelict engines and rows of mechanical devices are captured in a process of estrangement and become genuine objects of meditation. Waste grounds, snow-covered plains, Nordic shorelines and eerie canalscapes are the places imagined to stage the disarticulated ersatz of industry. Using unorthodox worlds in which docklands or vast building sites on urban outskirts are used metaphorically, the artist tracks down the material signs of dysfunctionality in our civilisation. Arranged in line in the desert, the generators of an hydro-electric power-station evoke the mechanized sarcophagi of cosmonauts once in pursuit of heroic deeds; the arm of a digger appears to have run aground in front of a concrete dam like a military vessel in front of a bunker; forsaken against a modern palisade of perfect blue, a rust-eaten tool seems to belong to another era, as if in exile, the sole survivor of a deluge.
As a recurrent theme, the machine becomes a mediator connecting the earth – on which a thick pictorial substance gathers – to the sky, a pure iconic surface of ethereal blue. Erected in front of us in huge frontal compositions, these machines rise like monuments of incorporeal anxieties. The porch of a pagoda arises majestically where once lay a curious metal portal. Other analogical games allow the bulging bow of a ship to be released out of the murky foam of a rough sea: it becomes a Sea God’s crown, a crown of thorns, but also a sea urchin, a coral and a matrix tumultuous swirl carrying away the whole composition along with it.
Turbines, chains, containers, keels: the rationality of technical objects easily lets itself be overtaken by the scrutinizing and questioning look of the soul hunter who can recognize, in the wheelworks of a boat engine, the many intellectual interlacings of a problematic yarn that can only be unknotted by a pictorial exercise in which descriptive accuracy is commensurate with emphatic projection. Those isolated mechanical bodies, at times painted in gaudy colours, at times iridescent and fashioned by rust, with their cables sectioned or hanging down to the ground, acquire the capacity to instil themselves in our psyche. Thinking carapaces, they can also become spurious organs. United in expectation and disarray, the series of Silomem robots explore an affectionate anthropomorphism ultimately identifying man and machine. At the same time pink-hued and smooth, dusty and irregular, the dented cuirasses of these young orphans mimic our own epidermis. Elsewhere, in Horoscope, the voluptuous folds of a trussed plastic tarpaulin are able to replicate the various distinct and changing erotic forms that the blue silk of a corset can take, modestly fastened around an elaborate piece of machinery as if around an unutterable secret.
These are only glimpses of a poetic devoted to machinery, sometimes close to the classical poetry of ruins and futilities that Odile Ferron-Verron unremittingly seeks to probe.