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atmosphere of expectation, demanding we wait for something to happen. It never does. Although we might make attempts at explanation, their ambiguity, while fascinating, remains unresolved. In more recent work, Mériau takes us into other kinds of fictional worlds by “creating large images whose impact is immediate and immersive (with) sculptural forms that are three dimensional landscapes one can plunge into”. She first achieved this in Au centre de la Terre 1, a set of images created for her final degree show at the RCA. At first sight, it seems that we are in a hot, subterranean place deep in the bowels of the Earth. Are we witness to one of John Martin’s apocalyptic visions or have we descended into Snaefell with Jules Verne? It is only later that we realise that we are looking at the inside of a loaf of bread, our first perceptions having transformed illuminated dough into tongues of incandescent rock, and tiny interstices into sculptured volumes which we might enter. Superficially, the impact of such images may be amusement at our self-deception. More significantly, however,

we ‘buy in’ to them much as we would a convincing theatre set. Particularly when seen full size, such images envelop and enchant us and induce a sense of physical presence in what are wholly imagined worlds. The making of images which engender such feelings has become central to Mériau’s practice. At its heart is her wish to engage our innate drive to seek places of habitation within landscape, reflecting, perhaps, a primordial instinct for security and belonging. The landscapes in her case are the fictional territories which she cleverly constructs and photographs in her studio and for which she uses edible matter, with its almost inexhaustible range of plasticity, colour and texture, as architectural material. She particularly relishes its associations with biological processes and some of her images suggest the warm, internal spaces of living organisms, their sense of dark enclosure tapping, perhaps, an innate memory of the womb. In one sense, Mériau’s images have no clear subject in themselves but show, with the persuasive clarity that only

the photograph can deliver, environments which we might enter and possibly inhabit. As we continue our gaze, her images inexorably draw us in and we, as their inhabitants, become their subjects. Nadège Mériau is a talented and creative artist-photographer with distinctive ambitions and a visual language to match. Her future practice, she informed me, will be one of continuing investigation of the visionary potential of constructed landscapes, and of new architectural materials and photographic techniques. She also intends to explore the creation of fictional territories which are increasingly abstract and ever more removed from appearances reminiscent of the physical world, taking us, perhaps, into places entirely of the mind. She would also like to broaden her practice to include video and possibly the use of a variety of platforms for expressing her work, including the Internet, public events and books. I will follow her career with interest. Summer issue Close-up: Laura Letinsky RWA magazine

Spring 2012


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