Noemie Goudal makes very large format colour photographs of empty, man made industrial spaces, in which the wilderness of nature always finds a way. What she photographs could be interpreted as found stage sets. Indeed, the places she shows are often enclosed within walls. Grey and flat concrete is balanced by green and soft vegetation. A central element of interests generally comes to trouble or invite the viewer into a questioning, sparking a narrative.
Starting from this template, that was also present in her previous series, “Les Amants”, one becomes amazed at the appearance of an iceberg in an open seascape in her show at Edel Assanti. The central object is still there, standing strong and looking like polystyrene, but the enclosing walls are gone, replaced by the frightening sky and sea. I felt really exposed and vulnerable when taken from these disquieting yet somehow familiar and reassuring bunkers to the open grey-white sea and white-grey sky.
The space at Edel Assanti allows for only a few of these immense tableaux to be displayed, which is bound to bring an atmosphere of serenity and contemplation.
The surprise of the show is the installation of a few stereoscopic viewers, that allow only one person at a time to discover the 3D images they enclose. They function like a negative to the large photographs: they are small, individual, intimate and can’t really be socially shared around a bottle of beer. In this way, they are an interesting counterpoint. And when you look at them from the outside, it is as if people were observing the landscape displayed on the opposite wall through binoculars. As if this large sea and what it evokes could only be tamed through a lens…
It is just so ironic that the opening was so packed with loud people, so much so that you could not even approach the images or look at them in their entirety. It clashes so much with the show’s introductory text that describes the pictures as “uninhabited yet implying human presence”, and as exploring ” the relationship humanity develops with secluded landscapes such as islands, grottos or shelters”. During the opening, the reflection of people on the shiny surface of the works oddly peopled the pictures.
Only in the stereoscopic viewers did this relationship remain whole.
Noemie Goudal | Haven Her Body Was | 13 September 2012 – 14 October 2012 | Edel Assanti