By Chiara Nuzzi

© Noemie Goudal

During the past years, Noemie Goudal’s works have predominantly focused on photographic images resulting from ‘volumique conceptions’; sculptures and installations that are carefully connected to specific spaces before being photographed. The fabrication is essential to the practice, however, the act of taking the picture transforms the object and consequently the image becomes the object itself. Through the process of building sets that enact within found locations, Goudal produces versatile spheres, which offer new perspectives to the photographic canvas.

The series explore self-contained lands such as islands and lost paradises, where tangible spaces are often cultivated through the map of human’s imagination. The images invite into scopes that are geographically undecided, that neither exist in reality nor in fiction. Cascade, for instance introduces the ‘promise not kept’ of a blissful waterfall, its consistence being however, only made of revolting plastic sheets. Unlike utopias that are always set in the realm of invention, those places can be defined as heterotopias; term coins by Michel Foucault in the late 60’s that refers to spaces of otherness, coinciding physical and mental implications. In some images, Goudal uses devices such as large scale paper backdrops, that, juxtaposed with a landscape invites the viewer to enter the space as well as entering the narrative of a ‘make-believe’ environment.

In both project Island and Les Amants, the imageries are encapsulated into their own realm of existence: while Island is set in a confined, removed areas detached from any human’s domination, Les Amants, recreate altered paradises which, according to their first definition, refer to enclosed parks: inviting thus disconnected. Similarly to the existence of the world maintained in an image, Goudal’s scenes embody isolated territories, which grow in parallel to the human time, allowing their own historicity to evolve adequately.

1. When did you start to photography?

Can you tell why did you choose this means of expression?

I started to photograph when I was 14. It was a hobby. I was processing black and white photos in the darkroom one day per week.

As a teenager, I enjoyed ‘making’ images. Through the process of processing the photographs, I felt like I was fabricating my own objects.

2. According to Baudelaire’s worlds in his text “The Painter of Modern Life”, the artist has to maintain the childish ingenuity and sight on the word, in order to see things as if it was the first time, and to appreciate them in different ways than the ordinary disillusioned one of the adults. Therefore, in order to discover new realities.

Do you think this point of view is present in your own work? There is an innocent aura on your pictures. What does it depends on?

Yes, I want the image to offer multiple understandings, therefore, I keep the playfulness open. Some could see an image as dark and fatalist and some others can see it childish and innocent. I like to play with this duality. For example, the waterfall can be seen as a political image and see the plastic waterfall as the human’s power over nature. It can also be seen as a game of illusion, a playful exercise.

3. How do your ideas usually take form? Can you explain your development process?

Every image has a different story. For some images, I work for a couple of months until I am entirely happy with it. Some others, are quicker.

The process is usually very slow. I pick up ideas when I travel, when I look around or when I read. I keep all my observations in a sketchbook and I have a jpg photo library where I keep snaps of possible locations, textures, materials, composition, lights, etc… And the work is about putting some observations together, making association between them. That is how I build both the concepts and the images themselves.

© Noemie Goudal

4. There is some artist, book, musician that have influenced your work in so far?

Yes of course. I was very influenced indirectly by contemporary theatre and contemporary choreographer such as Sidi Larbi Sherkaoui and Pina Baush. Also by the writer Haruki Murakami and Yoko Ogawa. I am very interested in their power of writing images. Their texts are very sensuous, full of odd locations, smells and textures.

5. I can personally see a strong dimension of the escapism theme. Which reasons push you in being so concentrated on this issue?

Yes of course. Interesting enough, I did a project a long time ago called Escapism. I am very interested in the duality between fiction and reality and the human s power to escape in fiction while living in his reality. My images are making a parallel between both. Their draw the viewer into a form of fiction (the fake waterfall, the fake backdrop) but they also remind the viewer that it is all set in his reality. (Mainly due to the photographic medium)

© Noemie Goudal

6. Do you think you are influenced in your work by a kind of “advertisement style” in some way?

How much contemporary photography is affected by it in your opinion?

I don’t think that I am influenced into the advertising. Quite the opposite I would say. All images have something ‘disturbed’. They propose a form of ‘dream’ but they challenge the viewer with his own reality. Where I see the advertising as the sublimation of objects which are quite far from reality.

7. How do you conceive the space in your work?

It seems to be something free and open, without boundaries, am I wrong?

Yes the space is like an area of experimentation, a place that I occupy for a short period of time. I usually react within the space and let it grow and evolve around me. When I try to ‘control’ too much, it never works!

© Noemie Goudal

8. There is an artist you are more inspired by at this moment of your creative process?

I have recently looked at the work of Dutch photographer Jaap Sherren.

9. What are your next programs? Do you have in program any new exhibitions or artistic projects?

Yes I am preparing 2 exhibitions taking place in London in May; Catlin Art Prize and the launch of Hoxton square gallery and another group show called ‘Ristuttura’ in September at the gallery Project B in Milan.

As I wrote, I am on my way to a small island of the Caribbean, where I will shoot 2 new images. I will stay there for 3 weeks.

In August, I will participate of the Mazama residence near Seattle.

© Noemie Goudal

Images: courtesy Noemie Goudal. Copyright reserved.

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