Today is the birthday of conceptual portrait photographer and film director Cindy Sherman. Sherman was born in New Jersey USA 1954. She received the MacArthur award in 1995 and currently lives and works in New York. She studied visual art at Buffalo State college, abandoning painting for photography.
“I didn’t want to make ‘high’ art, I had no interest in using paint, I wanted to find something that anyone could relate to without knowing about contemporary art. I wasn’t thinking in terms of precious prints or archival quality; I didn’t want the work to seem like a commodity.”
Although a lot Sherman’s work involve the use of stereotyping women in advertising, media and film, she does not stereotype her work, she does say this about her work:-
“The work is what it is and hopefully it’s seen as feminist work, or feminist-advised work, but I’m not going to go around espousing theoretical bullshit about feminist stuff.”
Her work involves taking series of photographs of herself in costume. For example in 2003 her series consisted of photographs of herself as clown. In 1981 an early series ‘Centrefolds’ considered women’s roles in film magazine and television;-
“In content I wanted a man opening up the magazine suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be. Looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim. I didn’t think of them as victims at the time… But I suppose… Obviously I’m trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation”
Sherman’s narrative work always has dark or sad undertones within it. She always maintains that her photographs are not self portraits, even though the pictures are all of herself. Sherman always plays a ‘type’ – a fictional type;- a housewife, socialite, – B movie actresses. She both hides herself within her work, yet reveals herself at the same time. It is a game of hide and seek where she sometimes disappears:-
“I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear”
Her work is both thought-provoking and evocative. As well as directing and modeling, she has also collaborated on advertisements with designer Marc Jacobs and designed album covers for the band American Babes in Toyland.
If I knew what the picture was going to be like I wouldn’t make it. It was almost like it was made already.. the challenge is more about trying to make what you can’t think of.”
video by innertubevideo with thanks!
Also born on this day Paul Cezannne – read my post here