Year created:
Noémie Goudal, Telluris, 2017

Noémie Goudal, Telluris, 2017, digital print on billboard fabric, steel, 10 x 20 feet, Courtesy of the artist, Photography by Rick Mansfield Jr of Anchor Imagery.

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10 x 20 feet

Digital print on billboard fabric, steel
Exhibit Date: 
On View Oct 15, 2017 - Jun 03, 2019

In Noémie Goudal’s photographs, strange towers appear to float on water, vacant modernist buildings meld with gothic architectures, and mysterious orbs hover over seascapes and mountain ranges. These surreal scenes result from her interest in our understanding of nature through myth, religion, literature, and early scientific discovery. Using trompe l’oeil techniques, Goudal’s images confound the eye and challenge our perception of depth, dimension, and reality. Her process involves travel to remote locations, large-scale installations, analog photography, and digital collage. Working with a small team of assistants, she mounts her photographs on cardboard and wooden frameworks, installs them in unexpected environments—deserts, rainforests, abandoned buildings—and then re-photographs them, creating uncanny visual spaces.

For the twentieth iteration of deCordova’s PLATFORM series, Goudal brings her otherworldly photography to the Sculpture Park. To create Telluris (Latin for earth or ground), the artist traveled to the Mojave Desert in California, using the barren landscape as a backdrop for a series of stark geometric formations made from wooden cubes. The resulting pyramidal structure rises from the desert floor like a mirage and evokes the abstracted form of a mountain. In this project, Goudal explores the link between nature and geomorphic architecture, in which structures are designed to meld with or respond to natural forms. The wooden cubes resemble scaffolding and allude to the constructed environments found in zoos that emulate an animal’s mountain habitat, or amusement park rides like the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland Park. Taking a cue from these staged sceneries, the structure in Telluris becomes the unadorned framework of a towering landform.

Installed on a billboard and set within the New England landscape, Telluris can also be seen as a gateway. Framed by the curtains of two majestic weeping beech trees and situated within a world of lush color, the black and white desert terrain appears as a window into another time and dimension. Telluris encourages us to reflect on the associations we establish between fact and fiction, abstract symbols and physical objects, and the manufactured and organic. It reveals the slipperiness of the boundaries that separate these opposing realms while embracing both.

Noémie Goudal (born 1984, Paris, France; lives and works in Paris and London) earned an MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art in 2010. Her work is in the permanent collections of FOAM Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; and the New Art Gallery Walsall, England. Recent solo exhibitions include Cinquième Corps at Le BAL in Paris, France (2016) and Southern Light Stations at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, United Kingdom (2015–2016). She is represented by Edel Assanti, London, and the Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, Paris.

Goudal’s Telluris is part of deCordova’s PLATFORM initiative, a series of one-person commissioned projects by early- and mid-career artists from New England and the world that engage with deCordova’s unique landscape. The series lets artists expand their practice and visitors experience new approaches to contemporary sculpture.