Frances Goodman, Go beyond pain, Banner, 2008, Sequins, silk, thread. Ed. of 2, 64 x 66 x 7 cm, 25.20 x 25.98 x 2.76 inches
Keeping Up Appearances is Frances Goodman's upcoming exhibition at the Aeroplastics that showcases both new and older works, offering an incisive and extensive understanding of her practice. In keeping with her long-running interest in obsessions, this exhibition is an objective study in sound, text and sculpture of what happens to the human condition when a psychological line is crossed. On their most basic level, Goodman's pieces are a detailed examination of how contemporary society is able to transform harmless activities like eating, shopping, exercising and taking medicine into deadly vices or dangerous obsessions. More critically, her works comment on the economic and cultural conditions and pressures that accelerate this perversion.
Mother's Little Helper are a series of three sculptures that are, in fact, precise models of the molecular structures of the most over-prescribed prescription drugs on the market. The adornment of these unfamiliar forms in jewel-like pins and crystals is more than a matter of keeping up appearances. It's a paradoxical reference to the absence of the packaging that would allow us to recognise these microscopic machines on our shelves. Viewers are invited to search for a correspondence between the forms within the shiny surfaces and their effects on the psyche.
The layered works of StealthWealth are the authentic shopping bags of fashion boutiques, which Goodman has upholstered, using and morphing the materials of the fake designer handbags of the same label. These grotesque hybrids are a study of the in transience of brand loyalty, in a recessionary context in which certain high-end outlets have actually stopped marking their carrier bags as a response to their customers reluctance to be seen consuming.
« Nothing Tastes as Good as Being Thin », and « Starve Me Sane » are just two of the slogans of the text pieces Goodman has crafted from the hook-and-eye fastenings typically used to make clothing tighter or looser. Entitled Bodycopy, the series is an investigation of eating disorders, and the subcultures they have produced. The slogans themselves come from websites that « Pro-Ana », (pro anorexia) girls host online. Again, there exists within the work a reference to addiction, but in this instance the emphasis is on deprivation, rather than indulgence. At same time the pieces intimate that there is a certain amount of luxury implicit in choosing not to eat.
Included in her older works is Young Guns, a large-scale DVD installation in which the visuals of two young men executing formal competitive poses are accompanied by an audio-track that examines the controversial and much-maligned sport of bodybuilding. This work is shown in conjunction with Goodman's Banner Series sculptures. The obsessively worked and highly decorative sequined surfaces declare a gaudy shallowness, which seems at odds with the sincerity of the bodybuilder's life affirmations.