Let Down Your Hair is a site-responsive sculptural installation composed of densely wrapped cascading elements that resemble brightly colored ropes woven into a protective nest. Tendrils extend from the core and across the curved wall of the 55 5th Avenue lobby, exploring the limits of the architecture. As with much of Goodman’s work, Let Down Your Hair is deceiving: the slick, shiny surfaces, bright colors, and elegant lines resemble, at first glance, a formal study in gesture and materials. Upon closer inspection, however, the work reveals itself to be constructed of thousands of individual acrylic nails.
The mediums used in Frances Goodman's practice are the materials and labor of the beauty industry. Goodman deftly deploys fake nails, false eyelashes, earrings, pearls, and sequins, among many other items found in the beauty aisle, to create works that are simultaneously seductive and appalling. The repetitive and meticulous gestures used to create Let Down Your Hair mimic the repetitive and meticulous labors of nail salons and beauty maintenance regimes. By employing these materials and efforts, Goodman’s work draws attention to popular assumptions that narrow the possibilities of female identity to extremes of consumption, aspiration, obsession, desire, and anxiety.
The beauty industry hinges on implicit and explicit messages that personal betterment can be found in a product. Loyalty to this system can amount to extreme investments of time and money, leaving devotees little opportunity to consider themselves under a structure of control. Though Goodman’s work references a society in which objects can define and burden people, it also celebrates the use of these materials as symbols of empowerment. The very existence of the pre-fabricated Big Bird-yellow, zinc white, and electric blue talons that Goodman employs in Let Down Your Hair is evidence of women embracing their own version of beautiful, rather than what mainstream culture mandates.
Born in 1975 in Johannesburg South Africa, Goodman is fast becoming known as one of South Africa’s strongest artistic voices of feminism and consumerism. Goodman studied Fine Arts at Wits University, Johannesburg. On completion of an MA at Goldsmiths College, London, UK, she lived in Antwerp, Belgium, where she was artist in residence at HISK (Higher Institute for Fine Arts). Goodman has had solo exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery in South Africa, Aeroplastics in Belgium, (Art)Amalgamated in New York and TM Projects in Geneva. She has participated in major international exhibitions such as The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists commencing at MMK Frankfurt and travelling to the Smithsonian and SCAD, Savannah, Lust and Vice: From Durer to Nauman at the Kunstmuseum Bern, Spheres, at Le Moulin, France and Beauty and Pleasure, The Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway. Her work has been shown at the Armory, ArtBasel and ArtBasel Miami. She has been invited onto a number of residencies, including Art Omi, New York, ISCP, New York, The Foundation GegenwART Berne, Switzerland, Recollets International Accommodation and Exchange Centre, Paris and, Artist’s Work Program, Irish Museum of Modern Art Dublin, Ireland.
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Let Down Your Hair is curated by Jennie Lamensdorf and sponsored by the Time Equities Inc. (TEI) Art-in-Buildings. TEI is committed to enriching the experience of our properties through the Art-in-Buildings Program, an innovative approach that brings contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists to non-traditional exhibition spaces in the interest of promoting artists, expanding the audience for art, and creating a more interesting environment for our building occupants, residents, and their guests.