Cindy Sherman at SFMOMA
I’m excited to have been invited to SFMOMA’s Artist Circle preview this Wednesday for Cindy Sherman’s exhibition. Her show is self-titled of course. Her work beginning even in her college days to her most famous “Untitled Film Stills” have never really needed clever names. The images have spoken for themselves and perhaps naming that series “Untitled Film Stills” made them even more curious. In an era, where artists have taken the liberty of using up to 12 words in their titles, her images are so stark or grotesque, I think I would forget my own name in their presence.
Adored by artists and curators, I’ve never really gotten down to the self-gaze or critical sense of her work because the content is so unnerving and disarming. Like analyzing filmmaker and artist, John Water’s camp sensibilities (Greenberg: Avant Garde and Kitsch, Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp”), it’s kinda useless. If his/her aesthetic’s throws off art snobs or any mainstream givens it’s a good thing. Sherman’s work repeated so many times in different ways has just gained our trust like an advertisement. She’s not selling sex nor product. She’s still experimenting in a realm of self-portraiture that she has created and innovated that no one else can step into it without referencing her face immediately.
I’m excited to see how her work has punched holes into the formal medium with her disguises and deadpan frowns over the years. Whether she’s posing as an art collector, theatre actor, or in a Marc Jacobs ad, she has become part of our visual canon with her blonde, femme fatal get ups and witchy sensibilities. I was inspired by her work from college on display at Metro Pictures on a trip to New York, that they became the impetus for my collaboration with artist Christian Jankowski in First Person’s issue #2. People may not have been let in on the reason why this photo shoot was in our “Ensembles” issue but it was because Cindy Sherman was our muse for it. I showed him her photos and we ended up reenacting “famous” moments from his personal art history as a fashion spread. Ken Baldwin, our talented Fashion Director was also shown the photos and pulled white wigs, white trenchcoats, etc. It was a successful homage to Cindy because the result was a reaproppriation in an imaginary space - somewhere that lies between personal biography, fantasy, festish, and studio.
Featured here: Cindy Sherman’s short film “Doll Clothes” (1975)