Using the desiring and desired body as a springboard, Goodman employs the familiar image of a woman’s disembodied mouth in her relief works, Tongue in Cheeky and Sumptuous Smooch (2019). We recognise these discarnate lips – plump and glossy – from the position they occupy on billboards, movie posters, and in magazine advertisements. They are, in essence, the signifier of the desirable body, the ultimate symbol of suggestive sensuality.
Yet Goodman’s sequinned lips flash and shimmer, refusing to hold their form. By hand-stitching the glittering bits of plastic side-by-side, exploiting their multitude of colours in a painterly manner, the image shimmers and refracts light, decomposing and reconstructing itself before the viewer’s eyes. Both through their suggestive titles and their scale, Tongue in Cheeky and Sumptuous Smooch draw deeply from their borrowed visual language of the ‘hyper-feminine’, amplifying it to the point that they become disproportionately provocative; almost vulgar.
While the mainstream media tends to reduce a woman to a singular idea or construct, and often to a disembodied body part, mouths are perhaps the most dangerous of these likenesses. They can talk back, they can bite. As much as mouths and lips can exude sensuality, they are also vessels of fury and hunger, threatening to devour.