I first came across a photograph by Noémie Goudal on Instagram, or Tumblr. Or it was some form of social media that’s privy to those instantly striking images, ones with a central juxtaposition too strange to overlook. For example, in Goudal’s photograph Cascade, 2009 bed sheets are hung up in a forest, designed to mimic a waterfall. It’s simple but effective. Yet the intrigue doesn’t lie in the illusion of water miraculously turned into sheets, like some forgotten laundry based bible story. Instead we can see the sheets hung up on rope, posed in a clear example of un-photoshopped building work. Rather, what’s interesting is the construction itself, the obvious invasion of the man-made into the organic world. This is the sentiment Goudal continues to beautifully explore in her current exhibition ‘Southern Light Stations’ at The Photographers Gallery, albeit in more subtle ways.
It’s a small selection of new work, building on this practice of the meeting of nature and culture, placing ambiguous geometric constructions within a landscape. It is very sky-heavy, and it begs the question why the sky has always weighed so heavily on us humans, filled with projections of heaven, God and impenetrable mystery. The works have been exhibited in the top room (5th floor, the closest to the heavens don’t you know) and they’re fittingly large and looming, perfect for a good questioning-your-place-in-the-universe-microcosm-macrocosm contemplation. The middle of the room even has an observatory like space to study cloud stereoscopes. It’s sort of like looking out an aeroplane window and feeling like you’re really seeing clouds for the first time.
The first monochromatic work on the right, Station V, is particularly interesting. On first glace it looks like it could be an eclipse, or a satellite image of the moon. Then you realise the lit smoke, the construction, and the jagged edges of the mysterious celestial shape. Perhaps it’s the backdrop to a prohibition era circus performance? Or the setting for a mystical cult ritual? I’d recommend you go take a look and decide for yourself.
This article was written for the December/January edition for the paper. It features content appropriate to the intended date of publication, and hence it might not be possible to visit or see the events/objects mentioned anymore. We apologise for the delay in the publication of the article.