Donovan Le Coadou’s oeuvre develops around the notions of abandonment, collection and displacement and includes references to art history as well as short news items. For this exhibition, the artist is being hosted by TOTAL at its industrial site in Dunkirk in the scope of the French Ministry of Culture’s « Artist in a company » residency programme. Since 2018, Le Coadou has been dividing his time between his studio at Fructôse and the former oil refinery, which was transformed in 2011 into a services platform including the OLÉUM training centre, upon which the project is based. The artist works in sync with the pace of the site, following the comings and goings of the teams and observing the transformation of this industrial complex, focusing in particular on the dismantling of the now obsolete tanks. However, Le Coadou isn’t there to illustrate the site’s activity and his unproductive presence doesn’t go unnoticed. Over time he gets closer to the teams and conversations grow more informal. Opinions and viewpoints on the infrastructure are exchanged; workshop are shown and the site explored together.
With the help of the site’s teams, Le Coadou collects various parts of equipment from this oil industry: blades, pipes, elbows, propellers, blocks, ferrules. He then narrows his choice down to elbowed steel pipes which he grafts together to form closed circuits. The sinuous volumes thus formed give rise to empty spaces and full volumes evoking a feeling of heaviness, balance and movement. Another series of sculptures is made up of pieces of sheet metal recovered from the tanks that were used to recycle industrial wastewater. These four sample sheets of different textures and colours were cut directly out of the tanks and rolled up. Behind the artist’s camera, they become the silent witnesses of the site’s dismantling, part of an improvised choreography between man and machine. Each laboriously extracted element is placed on a rolling cart as if ready to be archived, stored, inventoried. Yet, this presentation isn’t enough to remove all doubt about their condition, status or destination. Questions linger.
RUN TEST thus presents various elements outside of their industrial context. The exhibition frees form from function and scales the landscape down to our size. Look up, look down, look around, zoom in/out, listen… Our attention focuses on the raw materials, shiny welding and the half-worn writing. All brought together in the moment, past to present.
In partnership with Total OLEUM and the Welding Institute of Dunkirk.
With support from the Total Foundation.
10.04.2021 — 29.08.2021