I am a 46 year old American photographer based in Atlanta,GA.
Laura Noel’s pictures show us the attitudes, defiance, enjoyment, resignation, and contentment, of those who continue to smoke cigarettes in the face of public disapproval. More importantly, these portraits reveal that for some smokers, cigarettes are a way to enter into a state of contemplation.
This introspective pause in a hectic world is more valuable to smokers than non-smokers would imagine.
A residue of glamour can also be seen in these photographs – the theatrical inhaling and exhaling, the sensual pleasure of watching smoke float and dissipate in the air, and the primal tie to fire. Though we may not approve of the act, we can understand the appeal of smoking, however false it may turn out to be.
The pull of addiction and self-image is strong, as evidenced by Noel’s work.
Since the anti-smoking movement began gaining momentum in the 1970’s, culminating in the current ban on public consumption in the US and parts of Europe, smokers have become social refugees banished to windy corners, cars, and private rooms. Noel is interested in exploring the idea that society has become so disenchanted with smokers, that we have tried to legislate them out of existence.
Of course, smoking is unhealthy and potentially fatal, but Noel’s images are not a defense of this dangerous practice, but are instead a portrait of a diverse group of people united by a habit.
Laura Noel was born in Atlanta, Georgia, where she continues to live and work. She received a BA in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and a MFA with Distinction in Photography from the University of Georgia. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China, the Contemporary American Photography exhibition at the Internationale Fototage Festival in Mannheim, Germany, Gallery 24 in Berlin, the Hunter Museum of American Art, The Griffin Museum of Photography, Jackson Fine Art, Lumiere, Gallery 1401 in Philadelphia, The Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, and The Gregg Museum of Art and Design.
Her photographs have appeared in on-line and in print in Photography Now, Photography Quarterly, PHOTONEWS (Germany), Lens Culture, Planet, Art News Daily, The Humble Arts Foundation, Fraction Magazine and many others. Most recently Laura was the inaugural photographer in Fall Line Press’s series of quarterly magazines devoted to the work of one photographer, called Free Fall 01.Noel.01 – Free Fall 04.Noel.04.
Weekend portfolio selected by Chris Boot.