Constance
Nouvel

Réversible, Le Centre Photographique d’Ile de France, Pontault-Combault, FR

2020

Download the biography

EXHIBITION (SELECTION)

Solo exhibitions

2020
Réversible, Le Centre Photographique d’Ile de France, Pontault-Combault, FR

2019
Atlante, In Situ - fabienne leclerc, Paris, FR
Solstice, Le Point du Jour - centre d’art, Cherbourg, FR

2016
Le grand Train(c)t,musée Boesch, Le Pouligen,FR

Premier Radiant, In Situ - fabienne leclerc, Paris, FR

2014
La solution de continuité, Yishu8 - Maison des Arts à Pékin, CN
Vers le Haut et non pas vers le Nord, Centre de photographie de Lectoure, FR

Group exhibitions

2017
Image construite, Théâtre de Vanves, Vanves, FR
En marge, In Situ - fabienne leclerc, Paris, FR

2016
Biennale de la jeune création, Centre d?art La Graineterie, Houilles, FR

2015
Construction/apparition, carte blanche à Michel Poivert, La Galerie Particulière, Paris, FR
Pingyao International of Photography festival, Pingyao, CN
Festival Voies Off: Arles, Nuits de Projection, Arles, FR
Parti(e) de Paysage, 60ème Salon de Montrouge, parcours hors les murs, Montrouge, FR

2014  
La solution de continuité, exposition personnelle, Yishu8 - Maison des Arts à Pékin, CN
ONE STEP BEYOND, exposition collective, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, FR
A L?ENVERS, A L?ENDROIT ..., Centre Photographique D?Ile-de-France, Pontault-Combault, FR
ESPERANCE TUNING, Espace des Arts Sans Frontière, Paris, FR

2013
YIA Art Fair / Young International Artists, Bastille Design Center, Paris, FR
Jeune Création, Salon international d?art contemporain, Le Centquatre, Paris, FR

2012
Confidentiel du Yia, Paul Frèches et Dakota galerie, l?Appartement, Paris, FR
Fonctions obliques, exposition collective, Espace Eugène Beaudouin, Antony, Paris, FR
(Mis)perception, exposition collective, Galerie Paul Frèches, Paris, FR
Man-made, exposition collective, Galerie Dominique Fiat, Paris, FR
Réfraction, exposition collective, Espace des arts sans frontière, Paris, FR
Le songe, la raison et les monstres, exposition collective, Galerie Paul Frèches, Paris, FR

2011             
Exposition Constance Nouvel-Manon Recordon, Espace Lhomond, Paris, FR
Le Vent d?après, exposition des félicités, Beaux-arts de Paris, FR
Participation au 56ème Salon de Montrouge, FR
Participation à la European competition for photography ?Goldener Kentaur?, Münich, DE

2008 - 2010  
La photographie au scalpel, exposition collective,  Immix Galerie, Paris, FR
Photographie : de la perception en strates, exposition DNSAP,  Ensba, FR
Figures du corps, une leçon d?anatomie aux Beaux-arts, Galeries d'exposition des Beaux-arts de Paris, FR

Education

2010               
DNSAP avec les félicitations du jury à L?Ecole nationale supérieure de Beaux-Arts de Paris (Ensba)

2008-09          
Etudiante à L?Université du Québec à Montréal

2005-10          
Etudiante à l?Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris, atelier de Patrick Tosani

Awards and residencies

2016
Residency at the musée Bernard Boesch, FR.

2014
Prix de l?associaton Yishu 8, Maison des Arts à Pékin, CN.

2011
Prix de la Fondation des Beaux-arts Roger Bataille

Publications

2016
Artpress n°432, Apr. 2016.

2014
Pigeat, Anaël. Artpress2 n°34, Derrière Les images, Aug./Sep./Oct. 2014.

2013
Revue Mouvement, Carte Blanche, 19 Dec. 2013.

2012
Riff, Joël. "2012 semaine 47, Cérémonies". Chronique Curiosité,  19 Nov. 2012.
Riff, Joël. "2012 semaine 17, Factures". Chronique Curiosité, 23 Apr. 2012.
De Smet, Elsa. "Des images actives", Code Magazine 2.0 #3, 2012.
"Translations II". Essai visuel pour Code Magazine 2.0 #3, 2012.

2011

Duquerroy, Marion. "Vitevu". Blog de la Société Française de Photographie, 12 Oct. 2011.
Iribarnegaray, Léa. Libération, le 28. Jun. 2011.
Moulène, Claire. Les Inrockuptibles, rubrique Nouvelle tête, Jun. 2011.
Le Vent d'après, Editions des Beaux-arts, 2011.
56ème Salon de Montrouge, Editions Particules, 2011.

Texts

Constance Nouvel, Behind photos

By ANAEL PIGEAT

What lies behind photos? From her first years at the E?cole nationale supe?rieure des Beaux?Arts in Paris, in Patrick Tosani?s studio, Constance Nouvel was interested in what constitutes the photographic medium; in La 25e?me image [The 25th photo] (2010), she literally dug into the layers of paper glued together to form reliefs, each stratum of which evoked yet another off?camera (unseen) element. Whether naturalistic or abstract, in two or three dimensions, her photographs, always taken by her, explore the concepts of frame, depth of field, materials used and so on. In her early works, the grid was everywhere, not only in the compositions, but also sometimes in a literal form, printed, for example, on a plexiglas plate placed on a photo (Decors II, 2010). At the Jeune Cre?ation show in 2013, she even exhibited a straightforward photograph of a grid, a piece of cloth turned the wrong way round, the motif, as if by dint of being an obsession, extracted from the photos. A real mystery emanates from these somewhat indeterminate compositions. One is tempted to think that their content hardly matters, but we get caught up in the blues that are a little too blue, the strangely garish greens, the slightly overly?bright oranges that colour the water, skies and rocks. Hesitant, we then make out an aquarium photographed from below (De?cors XI, 2011), the decor in trompe?l?oeil of an indoor pool in Germany, in which a Riviera landscape appears (De?cors XII, 2012), the model of a mountain covered with a glass case through which we catch sight of a diorama (De?cors XIII, 2013). The artifice that reigns over these scenes is significant. Gradually, progressively, Constance Nouvel?s photos began to unfold in space, starting with Bascule [Tipping Point] (2011), a work in which a photograph, which is a little too long, sticks out beyond its frame. What looks like clouds, sea and sand is actually the reflection of the light shining through a window onto a ceiling. There?s a movement from a real space to a suggested space: that of the ceiling, photography and what is out? of?shot. The sculptural element of these works functions as a real augmentation of photography, which would seem, for the artist, to offer a detour allowing her to reposition herself within her medium. Thus the Persistants [Persistents] (2014) series is made up of pictures pasted on small plaster modules that give them a unique dimension. Over the course of her work, as others have done before her, Constance Nouvel has questioned herself regarding the possible basis for her photographs. With her most recent work, La Dernie?re Leve?e [The Last Hand] (2014), she went as far as attempting to put the frame into the image. She created a kind of thread, drawing a maze, which runs to the centre of a maritime landscape at sunset. Out of this colourful vision, all we can make out is a gradation in colour. Gradually, as we approach the middle of the image, we see a relief (like in La 25e Image). The structure of the piece evokes a games tables inlaid with marquetry, games in which the last trick is the most important. Recently, in the Incidences [Incidences] (2013) series, and perhaps in an attempt to escape her own images, Constance Nouvel began some more abstract research. Sheets of white paper were folded and unfolded and then photographed. Then prints of these photos were folded and photographed again repeatedly. Constance Nouvel is looking for «what happens between the capturing of the real and its adaptation as an image». Photos never reproduce reality, this photographer seems to be saying. At best they transpose it.

Constance Nouvel was born in Courbevoie in 1985. She lives and works in Paris. Translation, Jack Sims

Constance Nouvel

When speaking of her method, Constance Nouvel employs a statement that sheds a perfect light on her enterprise: « I choose subjects that, by analogy, can combine different spaces: the photographed, photography and the photographic. »She follows through on this wide program with a constantly renewed rigorousness and inspiration. Her work does not explore specific subjects or iconographic repertoires nor does it evidence particularly favored themes or spaces that need to be systematically explored. What it does is provide an analysis of what the medium of photography, so widely used, can still be today. Thus she has decided to examine the philology of the photographic: its history, its artifices, and its technical and semantic practices.To do so, the artist creates installation and three-dimensional dispositifs in subtle spatial settings where photography often captures the subject. They allow her to insert the critical dimension, the strategic distance, and the subterfuges that are inherent to her work, and that are underscored by the constant presence of a frame.. Thus, she creates mise-en abyme as in the image where an operator, by tearing the image in the foreground, reveals the one hidden behind it, thus suggesting a mechanism that could be repeated indefinitely; or as in the one where an observer is gazing into the paradoxically frozen image of a video screen hanging on a wall; or again in this collage done with torn images that reveal the enigmatic geology of another image. All these images are infused with a particular grace and sensitiveness that is not averse to the realms of imagination and dream, particularly through the recurring usage of the landscape. But it is a trap: by pretending to show us the poetic and aloof universe of her images, Constance Nouvel actually forces us to a sudden awareness that gives us no choice but to succumb to the irresistible charm that these images hold over us, and within which we find ourselves confined.
Henry-Claude Cousseau


Ces images actives, Code magazine

?The truth of a statement is dependent on a particular frame of reference?, Nelson Goodman, 1978

Constance Nouvel?s approach to photography took her straight to the crux of the matter: What (else), in 2012, is there to say about this most consummate of contemporary art forms?

A question of immense scope then, artist versus monument, but also very much the archaeologist excavating the foundations of the temple: choice of subject, composition, development techniques, medium, framing, presentation of works. What?s our frame of reference here? Real world, or rather, as the artist seems to be saying, artefacts, incorporated elements suggestive of the photographer?s subjectivity?

Constance Nouvel started by meticulously drawing up the catalogue of her investigations and dissecting what goes into creating a photo. In an effort to bring out what often remains concealed on the negative, the artist seems to want to peel away the adornments that have tended to constitute the refrain of a certain type of photographic practice. She then enters into a dialogue, one could almost say a duel, with her shots. Choosing apparently anonymous and often figurative motifs - a rainbow, an abstract landscape, a sunset -, she goads her photos, searching out their limits and inventorying reactions step by step. How do images respond when played around with, torn, pared back, split into two, bent or enlarged? What does displaying them on the floor rather than mounting them in frames on the wall do to them? What do they tell us when stuck to a steel plate rather than a plastic or aluminium strip?

While photography may be an imprint of the world, Constance Nouvel?s works reveal that the imprint is always (re)shaped by the person behind the lens. And this is just as significant as any mimetic process. Pushed to its extreme, this distinction leads to the discovery that each image requires, even itself impels, its own processing. By this logic the image becomes a subject in its own right and in concert with its auteur, pitches in with its own take, compelling the artist to approach it according to an individualised, non-systematic process. Nouvel's photos become actions in themselves, gestures resulting from an instant of dialogue between the image and the photographer in a quest for the limits of subjectivity. In what is a supreme paradox then, the artist will have placed her photographs in a realm of mechanical non-reproducibility.

Constance Nouvel?s photos are visual objects doted with a temporal and performative quality (1). They are images in situation, to be experienced in and with their specific environments. In lending herself here to the exercise of the photo essay for magazine, medium of reproduction par excellence, Constance Nouvel has confirmed the logic behind her work whereby her approach to the visual object is contextual, this visual object is shaped by its new medium and this medium uses its own lexicon to return us to the image.

Elsa De Smet

1 On the notion of performativity, refer to La performance des images, ULB Livres, Bruxelles, 2010, Alain Dierkens, Gil Bartholeyns & Thomas Golsenne (ed.).