Cindy Sherman


I've seen the work of Cindy Sherman, a feminist artist-photographer, at the Hirshhorn and other museums, but had never seen a collection of her photographs or a complete series until I discovered The Complete Untitled Film Stills collected in a book at the Strand. The book was put together by the MoMA, which collected all 69 photographs of the series. Sherman arranged the sequence of the photos for the book. 

The photos are all black and white, created between 1977 and 1980. Sherman photographs herself, being all three artist, model, and actress. The images are not self-portraits however, because they are not depictions of her own identity. The photos resemble movie stills, and viewed one to the next, her heroines of implied but mysterious narratives create an overall depiction of femininity - with the understanding that the femininity we are seeing is fictional. The roles she portrays are stereotypical, and the fact that we know the images are fictional draws awareness to the idea of gender roles being constructed. There are elements of fantasy about them (dress-up and theatre) that make the Stills intriguing. Seeing the photos together impacted me in a way that seeing her individual photographs had not, because so much of what she is doing is in the performance - the contrast of characters from one image to the next, creating a fantasy of women rather than a picture of one.