Noémie Goudal’s work explores the relationship between the natural and the artificial, science and imagination, construction and invention. Through her creations, she questions landscapes from different points of view, as if to elaborate a way of looking. Fascinated by the relationship between a physical landscape and its mental elaboration, she plays on the object it represents as well as what it historically represented in collective imaginary. Part of the artist’s work consists of big installations and sculptures she makes from the ground up and photographs on site, thus opening “other spaces”, like those described by philosopher Michel Foucault. The combination of fictional and geographic spaces creates “heterotopias”: concrete places that contain our imagination.
In 2015, Noemie Goudal started a new phase of her work with the Southern Light Stations series inspired by the many interpretations of landscape throughout history, especially the history of sciences. Using the spherical shape- symbol of perfection and infinity- as a starting point, she built monumental installations made of cheap materials like paper and wood.
Suspended in the sky, overlooking high viewpoints or in isolated locations, these structures question our perception of the intangible nature of the heavenly vault as perceived throughout centuries.
These images are inspired by ancient cosmogonies and the interpretations of the celestial landscape, from the Antiquity -when the sky was perceived as an enclosed space- up until the Renaissance -the moment in the history of astronomy when men discovered that the sky was not an immutable space.
This essential evolution for sciences and religions also radically changed the history of perception and therefore, of representation. These researches gave way to a new performative dimension in Noemie Goudal’s work: with Stations VIII, IX and X, an exclusive triptych featured in this exhibition, she tackles more complex devices (especially the disintegration of the printed image on water-soluble paper) in order to make visible the progressive disappearance of a celestial body over time.
Inspired by the discovery in 1572 by astronomer Tycho Brahe of the ephemeral nature of stars, this triptych evokes the shift in men’s speculations and aspirations regarding the sky: the immutable vault of the antique “order”, cosmos in Greek, became the chaotic and changing sky that left no more room for gods. Like a real-time performance, her three photographs explore the choreographies of the constantly evolving landscape. In her new body of works, Telluris, the artist refers to ancient theories of the formation of the Earth’s relief, especially mountains, which echo theories of the celestial vault. She developed a particular interest for those about radical mathematization and geometrization of landscapes that aim at a better grasp and understanding. At the same time, the philosophical novel entitled Mount Analogue by René Daumal, in which the heroes set off on a quest for an unknown mountain, also fed her researches. Through creating a body of works that gathers photographs and on site installations, Noemie Goudal explores and multiplies mountain spaces, what they represent and inspire, between real geography and subjective projection. Large wood installations are photographed in the middle of an arid and deserted landscape: like building frameworks inspired by the architectures of “artificial mountains”, they evoke the shape of sacred mountains and look like the “skeletons” of a relief in construction. For the first time, the installation comes out of the photograph and invades the gallery space. The raw wood cubes fill up the space, and proliferate in a sort of talus while dialoguing with the black and white photographs.
Trough this new exhibition, Noemie Goudal’s photographs and installation provide new perspectives on landscape, inspired by a travel back through the history of sciences and perception. They explore terrestrial and celestial spaces in an immersive way, deliberately blurring the frontiers between reality and invention.