Frances Goodman’s recent Sub Rosa show at The Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, presented a selection of works from her ‘Vajazzling’ series, as well as a few others. In her artist’s statement, the show is described as “exploring the covert and the subterranean, destabilising notions of objectification and female corporeal perception”. But despite this verbose theoretical underpinning, to most people at the opening, the show was simply uncomfortable spectacle – viewing strangers’ private parts in a public space with strangers. But perhaps this was the point, an ironic validation of the project’s intention. In her artist’s statement Goodman describes how over the course of the project her initial perceptions became inverted: “instead of reinforcing my critique on the media and the complicity of the women it targets, I felt the women I had met had complicated it…Whilst their personal celebration and empowerment reinforced the problematic relationships women have with their bodies, it was still a celebration and they still felt empowered…” Further on, Linda Stupart is quoted, arguing that “the relationship between woman-as-object and determining subject is distinctly muddied…and that emancipation may be found in voluntarily becoming-thing and a particular thing, an image, through participation in the material image. Participating in this thingness, imageness itself, makes it possible to speak meaningfully to other things and ‘join the symphony of matter'”. However, the works on this show failed to translate this apparent empowerment and so I remain somewhat skeptical of the logic that a double objectification equals an ironic equation.