Historically seen as criminal, or sinful, the idea of dependency as an illness is a recent one. Morbid Appetites is Frances Goodman’s upcoming exhibition at the Goodman Gallery Cape that takes its name from an antiquated term for addictions. 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 and taking medicine into deadly vices. More critically, her works comment on the economic and cultural conditions that accelerate this perversion.
Mother’s Little Helper are a series of six 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.
The exhibition will culminate in the sound installation MINDONTHEMONEY. Branded, sequined suitcases, with their notions of physical and social mobility, are static before the visitor as Goodman unfolds a soundscape composed of the calls of the hawkers who peddle ‘fake’ goods from suitcases because of their need to evade the authorities quickly when necessary. It is up to the listener to decide whether those who cannot, or will not part with the money for the authentic should be the objects of derision or praise, but more profoundly MINDONTHEMONEY illustrates the irony of the way in which the brand-dream, and the addiction to the label, unite humanity from sweatshop to boutique.