I went to the graduate show of Noemie Goudal at The Royal College of Art in 2010 and have been following her work ever since. I was immediately drawn in when I came across her vast installation, accompanied by sound, and left really only thinking about her. For me, she was the highlight of ‘The Show’, RCA 2010.The images I have selected for this article are from the series ‘Island’ and ‘Les amants’ (cascade). I have decided to pick from two series as not only does she have a style running throughout her work generally, but also I just found it so hard to just pick one.Her work for me is awe-inspiring. Put simply, Goudal combines the man made with the natural, quite distinctfully. But there is so much more to it than that. Goudal corruptfully interfers with space and perception with wonderfully imaginative results. She creates these magnificent three-dimensional sets with a two-dimensional composition for the camera, which are carefully naunced. A narrative is creatively staged. Staging allows the viewer to connect the illusionism of photography with painterly representation. In Goudals work she allows us to, through construction of meaning, explore the interrelationship of control and experimentation. She creates a studio for herself on location. The studio allowed photographers to stand apart from the social world, but it was always indirectly connected to it. Goudal fuses these willfully, and successfully combines them to create elaborate stories that go beyond the confining still image. Art since the 1960’s took the studio up as a space for acting out. The studio became a mixture of stage and confessional, a protected arena in which repressed desires and fantasies are worked through. Her work for me is reminiscent of Jeff Wall in some aspects. For example Wall’s image ‘A sudden gust of wind’ which appears to be a single photograph, but is the result of theatrical staging and heavy manipulation of elements photographed over 5 months. It is his use of actors and effects, a narrative approach to the acting out of the scene that can be seen in Goudals’ work. They both take a cinematic approach, breaking the walls of the still image, more closely reflecting a frozen piece of time, than a photographic ‘decisive’ moment. It is the very use of sound (through headphones), use of actors rephotographed in front of photographs, props and extending what can be seen in backdrops physically, that makes Noemie’s work so engaging on several levels. But what her work successfully achieves is changing the perception of a space. Like extending the roof of an empty warehouse merging into the edge of a pier where our vision is transported into the sea. Or where the woodland is scattered on a floor and we are transported into an ongoing pathway through natural woodland. Goudal makes a seemingly dry part of the forest appear gushing with a majestic waterfall. She transends her environment into a place of fantastical natural beauty. What belies this work is maybe an urge to escape the ordinary and everyday, to a place where only a child like vivid imagination can hope to take her. Through re-photographing these scenes, she allows the viewer to be transported with her on a journey through her elaborate narratives.Noemie Goudal was born in Paris and now lives and works in London. She has a BA in Graphic design from Central st. Martins and an MA in Photography from the RCA.
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