Recently, I was in NYC and went to a mesmerizing retrospective at the MoMA, “Cindy Sherman,” a show that spans the career of this prolific artist who, for three decades, has proceeded to investigate photography and self-portraiture subverting them.
Using techniques of collage as well as inspiration from painting, sculpture, theater, assemblage, she plays with images, particularly those of women.
Posing as her own model, the artist captures herself in, as the MoMA press states: ” a range of guises and personas which are at turns amusing and disturbing, distasteful and affecting. With an arsenal of wigs, costumes, makeup, prosthetics, and props, Sherman has deftly altered her physique and surroundings to create a myriad of intriguing tableaus and characters, from screen siren to clown to aging socialite.”
In the words of The New York Times critic, Roberta Smith, Sherman “comes across here as an increasingly vehement avenging angel waging a kind of war with the camera, using it to expose what might be called both the tyranny and the inner lives of images, especially the images of women that bombard and shape all of us at every turn.” (See the NYT review of Sherman’s show).
While I wandered through the show fascinated, I couldn’t help wondering about the personal dimension which the show doesn’t overtly address. Cindy’s work is a one-woman extravaganza. She famously toils alone in her studio without assistants, performing all pre- and post-production work herself, acting as photographer, model, stylist, costume designer and editor, and thereby producing an enormous body of self-portraiture.
What does this method and resultant volume of work say about Cindy, the woman-chameleon, the subject-object of years of inventive investigation, and her interior view of herself?
For Cindy Sherman’s latest exhibitions and works you can click here.