2013-2019, Acrylic nails, glue, polyurethane
Individually, each artificial fingernail used by Frances Goodman is a rigid, temporary, and dispensable object. But, when combined, the artist is capable of conjuring organic, seemingly living forms that defy their inanimate composition. Orgyliscious and Comfortable Entanglement (2019) take on the contours of a serpentine mating game, multiple attenuated bodies entangled in an ecstatic orgy.
While they appear sumptuous and seductive, the sheer variety of bright colours and tendrils result in an appearance that is somewhat frightening – these works possess a definite venomous quality, their shapes and shades confronting the viewer like a vivid warning sign. The term ‘aposematism’ refers to the appearance of an animal that warns its predators of its toxic nature. It's advertising, in a way, for something that is beautiful, but inherently dangerous.
Goodman’s use of acrylic fingernails references this kind of intoxicating menace. Despite being an extension of the quintessentially attractive female body, nails can scratch and draw blood, especially during the throes of passion (or death). Orgyliscious and Comfortable Entanglement allude to this aggressive feminine archetype, their brightly-coloured scales a metaphor for the woman Goodman seeks to make work about and for: “alluring, repellant, sexual, and abject.”
Photographs by Anthea Pokroy and Benji Liebman