Figure 3b, Archival Inkjet Print from 4 x 5" Negative, 40" x 50", 2014


A Curious Dance

Jodie MIM Goodnough

February 19th - March 21st
Opening Reception: February 21st 6-9PM


GRIN is pleased to present A Curious Dance, an exhibition of new work by Jodie Mim Goodnough. The works here are part of Goodnough’s continuous exploration of ‘dangerous emotions’, and societies attempt to contain, manage and categorize mental illness.

While her subject is often tensely personal and challenging, the presentation of Goodnough’s work is comforting. For this exhibition, six richly colored, large-format photographs sit comfortably spaced on dimmed gallery walls, while muffled yet familiar sounds play overhead. In the corner, a series of monitors flicker and glow with quiet scenes through empty halls. Despite the softness of the room, the work is stark and dramatic. In each photograph, a woman is beautifully, but perhaps uncontrollably, moving through an unnatural pose, directed by both history and the artist.

She approaches her content with tenderness and respect, disallowing common stereotypes and media-perpetuated notions of insanity and mental illness to exist in her work. Her gentleness, however, does not soften the final effect: dramatic investigations of dangerous femininity though new manifestations of old classifications.


"A Curious Dance is a series of large-format photographs and associated works resulting from my on-going interest in gender roles in psychiatry and mental illness. Specifically, I am interested in the notion of a physiognomy of insanity as expressed through historical imagery of women in mental asylums. In conducting research for a related project, I came across a series of gesture drawings by Dr. Paul Gachet, known to history as Vincent Van Gogh’s physician and one of his most famous portrait subjects.

Prior to working with Van Gogh, Gachet worked as a psychiatrist at the Hospital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris, an institution made famous by Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot and his photographs of “hysterical” women. While there, Gachet sketched many of his female patients in their discomfort and unrest, drawing upon recognizable models of physical form and expression from the traditions of art history.  These drawings were used to create supposed case studies of the postures of the insane. However, the drawings lack detail and the poses are gestural and ambiguous. To the modern eye and to me, these could be drawings of dancers.

Figure 1, Archival Inkjet Print from 4 x 5" Negative, 40" x 50", 2014

From the whirling dervishes of Turkey to the Italian Tarantella to the Lunatics’ Balls of Victorian England, dance, hysteria and religious ecstasy have long been intertwined. For A Curious Dance, I worked with professional and amateur dancers, photographing them as they moved through the poses in the drawings, investigating the movements of Gachet’s women. The resulting photographs attempt to convey feeling more than description; uncertainty more than definition." - Jodie Mim Goodnough



Jodie Mim Goodnough is a Providence, Rhode Island-based artist who uses photography, video, performance and sculpture to examine the various coping strategies we employ to find comfort in an often uncomfortable world, from religious rituals to pharmaceuticals and everything in between. She attended the photojournalism program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine and received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in May 2013. Her work has been shown in galleries nationally including at the Midwest Center for Photography and the William Morris Hunt Library of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.



Jodie MIm Goodnough, 365Days365Artists, Greymatter Gallery Collaborative, 2015
Can't Miss Events, Rhode Island Monthly, 2015

*The title A Curious Dance comes from an article by Charles Dickens entitled “A Curious Dance ‘Round a Curious Tree” regarding his Boxing Day visit to St. Luke’s, a London mental institution for the poor.