Mike Goodlett, Toilers of the Sea, 2011, Ballpoint pen and thread on paper, 22.75 x17 inches
Dress Socks and Other Diversions
September 29 - November 26, 2011
Institute 193, Lexington
The early Portugese colonists who landed on the coast of West Africa described the native’s wooden figures as feitiço, or fetishes. Having observed their use in local religious ceremonies, these European explorers assumed the sculptures bore supernatural powers, and the term “fetish” was translated and written into the Western imagination as an inanimate object bearing religious or mystical qualities. In 1887, Alfred Binet introduced the psychological concept of “sexual fetishism,” defined as the sexual admiration of an inanimate object, isolated body part, or other object of unconventional sexual desire. Today, the Internet allows individuals to anonymously explore any number of interests, fetishes, or fantasies from the comfort of their computer screens.
In his most recent body of work, Goodlett has taken a magnifying glass to the human body, isolating individual views from the larger whole and creating mixed media drawings that function as modern fetishes. These forms are rendered in ballpoint pen, then meticulously and rhythmically pierced with needle and thread, creating a secondary covering or skin. Goodlett’s ambiguous objects distill sexual fetishism into its simplest form by replacing the typical imagery of desire with line, color, form and texture.