Frieze London: Noémie Goudal: Below the Deep South

Frieze London 13 - 17 October 2021 
Frieze London Focus Section | Booth H04
Noémie Goudal’s practice involves the construction of ambitious staged, illusionistic installations within the landscape, documented using film and photography. Goudal’s interventions are under-pinned by rigorous research examining the intersection of ecology and anthropology, interrogating the limitations of theoretical conceptions of the natural world.

Noémie Goudal’s latest film, Below the Deep South (2021), is the first work in a multi-chapter body of work entitled Post Atlantica. The film opens with a vision of a lush rainforest. The landscape slowly reveals itself to be an elaborate staged set, comprising layers of cut-out photographic prints of jungle scenes. As the film progresses, the layers dramatically combust into flames one after another, until all that remains is the vacant staging space. The film’s soundtrack equally merges reality with illusion, combining recordings of the burning installation with evocative jungle sounds.

Goudal’s series Post Atlantica unravels an artistic dialogue with the field of paleoclimatology, analysing climate and geology from a “deep time” perspective to acquire an understanding of our planet’s trajectory. Measured over millions of years, this timescale reveals geographies of landscapes to be mere momentary states. “Atlantica” was the ancient continent that formed during the Proterozoic, approximately two billion years ago, which has since separated to form West Africa and eastern South America.

Each of the chapters in Goudal’s series’ takes a relevant theory or hypothesis as a point of departure. Below the Deep South is inspired by research conducted by Dr James Bendle in Antarctica, where deep drilling revealed 52-million-year-old pollen fossils that infer the historical existence of an immense tropical forest in this location. Goudal’s film reimagines the perpetual transformation of Earth’s landscapes, oscillating between ice and tropical ages, in a rapid sequence in which fire is deployed as visual metaphor for a state of flux. Through optical illusory techniques developed over ten years of her practice, Goudal hypnotically disintegrates each landscape successively, resonating with the Earth’s historical narrative: of these lush tropics only a bed of ashes remains.

Goudal’s upcoming institutional solo exhibitions include Vitrine du Plateau at Frac Île-de-France (France), 2022 and Post Atlantica at Les Rencontres d'Arles (France), 2022. Recent solo institutional exhibitions include Post Atlantica at Le Grand Café Centre d’Art Contemporain (France), 2021; Echos toujours plus sourds at Musée Delacroix (France), 2021; Kunstverein Hildesheim (Germany), 2019; Ballarat International Foto Biennale (Australia), 2019; Musée des Beaux-Arts Le Locle (Switzerland), 2019; Finnish Museum of Photography (Finland), 2018; The Photographer’s Gallery (UK), 2016; FOAM Museum (Holland), 2015. Goudal’s work is held in public collections including Centre Pompidou, FOAM Museum, Fotomuseum Winterthur and Musée de la Roche-Sur-Yon. Goudal (b. 1984) graduated from the Royal College of Art (UK) in 2010 with an MA in Photography, and lives and works in Paris, France.