Constance Nouvel: the factory of silent enigmas
Constance Vargioni offers a glimpse into the work of Constance Nouvel, creating a cinematographic portrait that is as deft as it is delicate. For Sortir du cadre ('Outside the frame'), she spent a year immersed in the artist's work.
Her singular gaze serves as a reference point, adopting an accurate, subtle approach that gets under the artist's skin, mirroring the sensitivity of a thought process that is observed and portrayed without ever revealing too much or altering the significance of the process. Constance Nouvel's photographic objects are mysterious entities, silent and immobile, marked by absence. It is as though they hold the secret of a concealed reality, capturing an intensity that lies hidden behind a deceptive stasis while a barely perceptible movement is at work. The interplay between appearance and disappearance forms the mainspring of a process of revelation that is no longer merely chemical, but comes into effect when the connection between visible and hidden becomes a question of looking or seeing.
Far removed from all forms of computer processing, the photographic print itself becomes the recipient of a gesture that transforms it, in a methodical process of construction. Once the image is fixed on paper, it begins a metamorphosis, incorporating shifts in time that are part memory, part visual experiment. Exploring the possibilities of framing, format and scale, the image emancipates itself, juggles with space, reveals new facets, colonising the third dimension. The possibility of deploying its full scope lies beyond its own borders ('Unfolding', 'Uncovering', 'Reversible'). Through a series of extensions and prolongations into the surrounding environment, Constance Nouvel calls up whatever lies off camera, passing "from a real space to a suggested, imaginary, mental space (...) delivered to the spectator who has all the freedom of his or her subjectivity"1. A multi-layered process of expansion from which the final work emerges, the way a body, a being, a figure blooms into maturity.
With these augmented images, the artist eludes the constraints of her technique to develop a counter-intuitive use of the photographic medium, a hybrid format within which the image acquires a new status. By losing its capacity to multiply, the photograph enters the realm of sculpture and gains a different power: the power of singularity. The augmentation of the photographic image comes hand in hand with the augmentation of its ontological and poetic significance, the aim of the artist being to use her shots, the images she has captured, like tipping points to answer these two primordial questions: What is photography? What is reality? A mysterious confrontation like a kaleidoscopic mirror, into which Constance Nouvel never stops venturing.
1 - In her own words
Noémie Monier is an artist and art critic. She is a visual artist, both solo and as a member of the duo MKNM (Magda Kachouche & Noémie Monier). She is a permanent resident of DOC, a self-managed space for distribution and production. Born in 1984, she lives and works in Paris.