An Introduction to photographer, Cindy Sherman.
Cindy Sherman is the respected American photographer and director
renowned for her abstract and conceptual portraits .
Sherman's photographs are conserned with raising the
consiousness of the public regarding the role and representation of
women in society. Her photos
examine the ways in which the portrayal of women through the media
effects the subconsious roles women take in society. Her photos
challenge the ideals put forth by the media.
Sherman began painting in college but became frustrated and began to feel her paintings were becoming dirivitive of
other works by other artists. She saw photography as a medium she
could make her own. “There was nothing more to say through painting, I
was meticoulously copying other art and then I realised I could just
use a camera and put my time into an idea instead.”
Sherman spent the rest of her time in college focusing on photography. To explain the process of her photographs,
she works in a series, photographing herself in a range of costumes.
She shoots the pictures in her studio, she takes on the role of model,
makeup artist and of course photographer. Although she does not regard
her work as exclusively feminist, many of her photos do highlight notions of female sterotypes in film,TV, and magazines. In her photos
Sherman feels she is present but also very much hidden away behind a charachter she is portraying, she explained to the NewYork times in
1990, “I feel I am anonomys in my work, when I look at my photographs, I never see myself, they are not self portraits, sometimes I feel I
'The untitled film stills' are a collection of photos
taken by Sherman between 1977-1980, in which she received
international recognition. These photos depict women in typical roles
related to sterotypes. For example some of her charachters include a
caring housewife, an attractive seducer, and a glamorous “diva”. Her
photos encorage the viewer to relate to the charachter, to recognise
themselves in the scenario depicted. She says of the photos “I am trying to make other people detect themselves rather than me.”
In the 1980's Sherman began to focus on topics that
may have been considered taboo at that time, Her photos dealt with
issues of eating disorder, insanity and even death. She also adressed
the effects that the reinforced beliefs that are put forth by the media.
In partucular a photo taken by Sherman in 1984, displays a young woman, modelling fashionable clothing made by some
elite designer. The clothes in this picture however do not seem
attractive to the viewer, the colors she has chosen are clashing and displeasing to the eye, the woman's expression is vacant and she seems
lacking in inner beauty. The woman loses her self confidence and cannot bear the pressure of the superficiality that being a woman represents. It is interesting to contemplate what it is that the word
fashion denotes for women in particular, happiness, attractiveness, a self worth gained from our outward appearence. I think these are the
types of concepts or ideas that Shermans photos aim to analyse.
Cindy Sherman's photos are a thought provoking look at the roles women have within society, but I think they also raise
issues of gender and how men relate to women. Her photos examine “traditions” associated with “femininity” and what it is to be female. I found her photos relating to the
pressures of fashion and beauty in society particularly interesting.
Are sexuality and fashion interlinked? Also- is it anti-feminist to
believe that it is objectifying for a beautiful woman to be
photographed in a sexually objectifying photoshoot, after all it is
her choice, she is aware that she is an object for to be looked at.