Noémie Goudal’s Photo and Video Collages Trick the Eye. But They’re All About Revealing, Not Concealing, Her Process


The French artist Noémie Goudal is an illusionist. But unlike a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Goudal provides the viewer with enough clues to understand her creative process. Her photographs and videos of palm trees and burning vegetation derive from the creation of printed décor, like stage sets, which clearly differentiates her art from the work of a documentary photographer. 

Several images on the stand of Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire at Paris Photo in the Grand Palais Éphémère this past weekend, conveyed Goudal’s preoccupations with nature and her working method. 

For Mountain III (2021), Goudal erected jagged pieces of cardboard in front of a partially snow-capped landscape. In order not to deceive the viewer about her intervention, she left the edges of the cardboard visible in the ensuing work.

For Phoenix V (2021), she sliced her own photographs of a palm tree into vertical and horizontal strips, which she installed in the same landscape in order to make another picture. The overlapping layers of strips conjure a deconstructed image. Black spaces in between the branches and the artificial light illuminating some of the leaves denote how the original conditions were nocturnal. Meanwhile, the visibility of the clips and cables communicates the work’s artifice.

Noémie Goudal, Mountain III (2021). Courtesy Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire.

 

“What I try to instill in the image is all the artisanal side, so you can find the gesture of fabricating the image within the image itself,” Goudal told Artnet News. “For me, it’s very important to involve the viewer so that they can live a bit of the [image-making] experience.”

To capture the palm trees, Goudal and her team of assistants drove to southern Spain, taking along equipment like cameras, computers, a printer and lighting. “We made a kind of deconstruction of the landscape and the result of this performance is represented in the photos,” she said.

Born in Paris, Goudal, 38, studied graphic design at Central Saint Martins in London before attaining a MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art. “There’s better and more varied teaching in England; the schools have a good reputation and the students are very free,” Goudal said about her decision to study abroad. 

From the beginning of her practice, Goudal has been interested in the hovering interface between fictional images and reality. To make her early works, she would install a photograph of a landscape somewhere very different—such as capturing a print of a misty, tropical road inside a dusty barn. 

In the last few years, Goudal’s work has become increasingly ambitious in scale and media. She has had exhibitions at the Photographer’s Gallery in London, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam, among other venues. Notably, her works have entered the collections of the Centre Pompidou, the CNAP – France’s visual arts collection, and Germany’s Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Noémie Goudal, Phoenix V (2021). Courtesy Galerie Les Filles Filles du Calvaire.

As part of this summer’s Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in the south of France, Goudal had an exhibition, “Phoenix,” in a deconsecrated gothic church called Église des Trinitaires. On view in the chapel’s nave were two captivating videos evincing her fascination with representation, installation, and performance. 

Inhale Exhale (2021) opens with a verdant, tropical landscape, like a postcard cliché. But the palm trees are soon revealed to be printed on placards, which begin to emerge and move, eventually collapsing in the rain. Then an identically constructed jungle appears, only to meet the same drowned fate. The piece was filmed in the wood of Vincennes, near Paris, wherein the décor was placed. 

The second video, Below the Deep South, (2021), is more terrifying, showing lush vegetation being set ablaze. The edges of the sheets of images lick with flames, burn and vanish. Then another, and yet another, layer of images catches fire in a perpetual cycle of repetition and destruction. Eventually, the ravaging flames stop flickering and embers amass on the floor of an industrial site. This ‘making of’ ending indicates that this is where the sheets of images were installed. Clarity is given to the mastered fakery, the poetic illusion is rendered comprehensible.

One immediately wonders if the dystopian vision is a reflection on the fires in the Amazon rainforest during Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency of Brazil. But Goudal replied that this was not the starting point. Rather, it was researching deep time and paleoclimatology, the study of the climate history of the earth and how a better understanding of the earth’s climate in the past relates to its present and future climate. 

Noémie Goudal. Film still from Below the Deep South (2021). Courtesy of Les Filles du Calvaire gallery and the artist.

“What interests me through these videos is trying to see the metamorphoses of the earth in a much broader sense than during man’s era, and looking at the destruction of fire but also at how it is a very important force of energy,” Goudal said. “When we speak to paleoclimatologists, we realize to what extent the earth was subjected to metamorphoses, like blasts and volcanoes, which allowed man to exist, and it’s this balance that we’re trying to save now.”

It is this transversal quality of Goudal’s practice—working across techniques and media, and exploring the earth’s different geological epochs—that makes it distinguishing, according to Stéphane Magnan, co-founder of Galeries Les Filles du Calvaire. The gallery sells her photographs, in an edition of five, priced between  €18,500 and €28,000 ($18,330-$27,740), depending on the format. Videos, also in an edition of five, are priced at €20,000 ($19,810).

“This artist proposes a very subtle work that destabilizes the viewer by deconstructing the landscape,” Magnan said. “This very particular, offbeat vision triggers fundamental issues about the earth’s transformation and proposes an aesthetic recomposition of our world.”

The theme of destruction is treated slightly differently in the black-and-white video, Untitled (Study on Matters and Fire), 2022. Commissioned for the group exhibition, “L’horizon des événements,” at Château d’Oiron in western France this summer, it shows a bleak, actual wasteland located beyond the periphery of Paris. 

One quickly perceives that the austere image is a composition of different elements, centered by a large circle whose edges become aflame. As the billowing, blackened paper tumbles, the fire devours the landscape. Through a system of photographic anamorphosis, the destruction gives way to the real, unravaged landscape behind.

Noémie Goudal, Untitled (Study on Matters and Fire) (2022). Exhibition view Château d’Oiron. Photo: Anna Sansom.

 

“The contract with Jean-Luc Meslet, director of the Château d’Oiron, was to produce works in situ, in or near the château, and we looked with Noémie for a forest that could be filmed in May but this turned out to be impossible so we couldn’t respect this contractual clause,” the exhibition’s curator Patrice Joly explained. “I find this new film even more powerful – it totally finds its place in the château’s grandiose setting, the sound fills the large room under the eaves […] and makes us feel the power and magnetism of fire – it’s a magnificent piece.”

Goudal, who cites Christopher Williams, Wolfgang Tillmans, Andreas Gursky and Zoe Leonard as references, has also ventured into interdisciplinary projects. At the Festival d’Avignon, south of France, this summer, she collaborated with stage director Maëlle Poésy on a performance piece, Anima. Next to a landscape-metamorphosis video, a dancer performed on a metallic, gridded structure of the same dimensions as the video screen. 

Goudal has also made a foray into sculpture. At her exhibition, “Post Atlantica,” at Edel Assanti in London earlier this year, several spherical, kinetic sculptures were on display alongside photographs and videos. 

Indeed, Goudal aspires for her conceptual work to defy classification and be appreciated beyond the confines of photography. “It’s still complicated to show photographic work in a contemporary art context,” Goudal lamented. “As there are fairs dedicated to photography, a gallery will think of showing their trending photographer at Paris Photo rather than at Paris+ [par Art Basel]. I understand but it’s just classifying [artists who work with photography] even more. I suffer a lot from this.”

Besides, Goudal is hardly a photographer in the traditional sense. “Photographers who make documentary and more classical work don’t see mine as classical photography,” Goudal added. 

Certainly, what drives Goudal is developing a multifarious practice, rich in intellectual exploration. “It’s very natural for me to use all these different media,” she said. “What interests me is studying the image from lots of different viewpoints and, above all, the experience of creating the image.”

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Asia-Pacific’s Largest Photography Fair Will Host Its Inaugural New York Edition Next Fall


Photofairs, Asia’s largest photography fair, will make its debut in New York next year.

Event organizer Creo has announced the first Photofairs New York will take place from September 8–10, 2023 at the Javits Center, just next door to the Armory Show. Held in partnership with Angus Montgomery Arts, the fair will showcase photography, film, and virtual reality works, spotlighting about 100 international galleries. Exhibitor applications are now open.

“We have great admiration for the Armory Show and its long-standing track record,” Creo CEO Scott Gray told Artnet News. “Bringing the unique offerings of the two fairs together under one roof will be mutually beneficial.” The Javits Center, he said, is “a purpose-built exhibition center well suited to the requirements of galleries and visitors alike.”

According to Jeff Rosenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s photography curator, the city itself is likely to be receptive. “New York’s enthusiasm for photography is almost unbounded,” he noted in Creo’s press release. “This will bring new energy to the fall season in New York.”

The 2017 edition of Photofairs Shanghai at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Photo by Simon Song/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Gray founded Creo in 2007 as the World Photography Organization, a company whose roster now encompasses the Sony World Photography Awards, Sony Future Filmmaker Awards, and Photo London. He currently also serves as CEO of Angus Montgomery Arts, which oversees India Art Fair, Taipei Dangdai, and Art Düsseldorf, among other fairs.

“Creo has since grown in scope, furthering its mission of developing meaningful opportunities for creatives and expanding the reach of its cultural activities to film and contemporary art,” Gray explained.

In 2014, Creo launched the now-signature Photofairs Shanghai. Between 2017 and 2019, the group tried hosting two rounds of a San Francisco edition, but gave up after learning it cost more than $1 million to produce.

Photofairs New York will organize exhibitors into four sections. “Galleries” will encompass all exhibitors chosen by Creo’s Selection Committee, comprising of international galleries, and the fair’s Advisory Group of international collectors—who will also cultivate an audience of buyers for the event. International fair partner Meta Media Group will expand the fair’s global footprint.

Photo courtesy of Photofairs New York.

Meanwhile, the “Platform” section will hold space for booths by galleries that have logged less than eight years in the business and artists aged under 35. “Screen” will showcase galleries working in new technologies such as VR and NFTs. “Film” will focus on moving image as a medium.

Since photography has gone from a technically specialized skill to a widely embraced medium, Gray reflected, “I believe there is demand for a new fair in photo-based works and new technologies, which really reflects current market trends and explores how we interact with digital culture.” Creo is looking to further embrace experimental practices and seminal photographers alike—and catch both seasoned and emerging collectors.

 

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Spotlight: From Bowie to Beyoncé, Markus Klinko’s Celebrity Photography Defined the Aughts


Every month, hundreds of galleries add newly available works by thousands of artists to the Artnet Gallery Network—and every week, we shine a spotlight on one artist or exhibition you should know. Check out what we have in store, and inquire for more with one simple click.

What You Need to Know: Founded in 1997 by Jeff Jaffe, Pop International Galleries has come to be recognized as invaluable to both the New York City gallery scene and contemporary art community for its laser focus on genres with mass appeal like Pop art, urban art, and photography. Recently, Pop International Galleries announced their representation of world-renowned celebrity photographer Markus Klinko. Originally from Switzerland, Klinko and his work were discovered early in his career by fashion editors Isabella Blow and Ingrid Sischy, both of whom commissioned him for magazine covers and other editorial shoots. Shortly after, Iman and David Bowie hired him to photograph them for projects. Since then, Klinko has photographed some of the world’s most famous people and created numerous iconic images that have become hallmarks of 21st-century pop culture—and his work has appeared in such legendary publications as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, GQ, and Interview. More recently, Klinko was the subject of the Cube Art Fair collaboration with Versace, which saw 30 of his images exhibited in Versace’s Miami flagship store.

Why We Like It: The 2000s had a distinctive, high-gloss aesthetic, and Klinko was a shaping force of visual culture in the early aughts. Many of the most iconic and recognizable photos of pop stars and celebrities have been captured by his camera lens, including as album covers for Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love and Mariah Carey’s The Emancipation of Mimi. His photographs of music stars like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga not only became famous in their own right, but also helped shape the stars’ respective celebrity brands. Printed by Weldon Color Lab on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Digital Pearl Paper, Klinko’s work comes to life and beckons viewers to look back at era-defining moments and celebrities. As one of the most admired photographers of the 2000s through today, Klinko’s representation by Pop International Galleries—dedicated to fostering a high-quality yet accessible collecting experience—is more than fitting.

Photographer Markus Klinko on set. Courtesy of Pop International Galleries, New York.

According to the Artist: “Jeff at Pop International Galleries shows some of my all-time favorite artists ever: Warhol, Basquiat, Lichtenstein, Haring…it doesn’t get any better! To see my work on display at Pop International right next to these heroes of mine is just incredible. Andy Warhol’s creative director for Interview magazine, Marc Balet, gave me my start in the industry, and having that work now at Pop, it feels like things are coming full circle!”

See featured works by Markus Klinko below.

Markus Klinko, Beyoncé, Dangerously in Love (2003). Courtesy of Pop International, New York.

Markus Klinko, Britney, The Forest (2004). Courtesy of Pop International, New York.

Markus Klinko, The Protector (2002). Courtesy of Pop International, New York.

Markus Klinko, The Savior (2001). Courtesy of Pop International, New York.

You can browse Pop International on Artnet or visit the gallery at 195 Bowery, New York.

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