Edel Assanti is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Noémie Goudal, including her Observatoires series, created for the artist's first UK museum exhibition currently on show at the New Art Gallery Walsall.
An investigation into mankind's evolving relationship with the natural world has always been a central focus of Goudal's practice. In this new body of work, Goudal undertakes a cross-cultural, historical examination of geomorphic architecture, progressing her exploration of the boundaries between artifice and organic, the real and the imagined.
Goudal's new work continues her implementation of installations and interventions within the landscapes in which her photographs are staged. In an unprecedented approach, she inserts imagined architectural constructions, in the form of her characteristic large-scale photographic backdrops. Whereas previously Goudal's interventions provided windows onto untouched natural landscapes, here they portray segments of sites of ambiguous historic or spiritual significance, meticulously embedded within barren natural landscapes and disenfranchised industrial spaces.
Goudal's Observatoires are inspired by the cosmic architecture of the Jantar Mantar, built in Jaipur, India, in the 18th Century. The backdrops reference these historic monuments, depicting bare concrete edifices orientated towards the sky, but are in fact realised through the digital collaging of architectural quotations sourced throughout Europe. The series pays homage to Bernd and Hilla Becher conceptually through its presentation and participation in the archiving of elements of "lost" concrete buildings, however Goudal's purpose is divergent. The Bechers' systematic documentation of the industrial utopia of the twentieth century is at odds with the ephemeral illusion of Goudal's architectural monuments, constructed entirely from paper. Goudal's series adapts a nostalgic deadpan, documentary aesthetical grammar to weave fact with fiction; the tone of these images protests to a literal honesty belied by the unlikely locations (in the midst of the desert or sea) of these ambiguous, spiritually charged edifices.
The images act as heterotopias, creating spaces of otherness that are simultaneously physical and mental, whilst seemingly portraying both a past and present state of affairs. Here, Goudal's backdrops act as a metaphor for the duality and contradictions, the reality and the unreality, inherent in utopian projects.
Noemie Goudal graduated the Royal College of Art with distinction in 2010. Goudal's work is included in major public institutions and foundations including the Fotomuseum Winterthur, David Roberts Art Foundation, Saatchi Collection and Conran Art Foundation. Goudal was the 2013 recipient of the HSBC Prize, and runner up for the 2012 Paul Huf Award at FOAM, Amsterdam. Her solo museum exhibition The Geometrical Determination of the Sunrise is currently on show at The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK, and will tour to FOAM, Amsterdam in March 2015.