Bjorn Franke


Zurich, VC Editions

This publication explores an almost forgotten image archive of the Italian railroad manufacturer F.E.R.V.E.T. S.p.A. The company—the name is an acronym for Fabbricazione E Riparazione Vagoni E Tramway (Wagon and Tramway Manufacture and Repair)—existed from 1907 to 2011. It repaired, overhauled, and modernized railroad wagons from all over Europe.

Documented over the decades by factory photographers, we believe one of them was Guerrino Scarparo, the images captivate through their amateurish character, their obsession with detail, and their supposed neutrality. Countless objects such as screws, switching elements, engines, and seats, but also deformed crashed wagons or product innovations and daily work processes of the employees can be found as motifs in the archived images. As in the work Evidence by Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, for example, the photographs of F.E.R.V.E.T. have no aesthetic context but stand as images exclusively for the proof of work practices and as a form of knowledge discovery. Therein lies, among other things, their fascination.

This publication is the outcome the workshop “F.E.R.V.E.T.” with Christian Lange and the students of the MA Visual Communication program at Zurich University of the Arts, October 13–15, 2021.

The publication can be ordered here.

Editors: Christian Lange, Björn Franke, Sarah Owens
Contributors: Carolina Márquez Bernard, Dominic Rechsteiner, Julia Mann, Miloš Gavrić, Sabrina Öttl, Virgilia Ramella, Walesca Frank
Workshop: Christian Lange
Design: Christian Lange with the Contributors
Photos: NN