Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Bit Untitled: Cindy Sherman at MoMA

Starting my Monday with Cindy Sherman at the MOMA.

Last Monday I went to the Museum of Modern Art to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit. As you float diagonally up the escalator to the sixth floor you are greeted by her newest work: towering color images pasted to the walls, wedged into corners and fanning over the entryways. They show Cindy, the model, in fable like costumes. She's a ballerina, an archer, a clown. I wonder, what does Cindy look like when she's not her model. Would I recognize her on the street?

The museum refers to the show as both a retrospective and a survey. Unfortunately it doesn't really do a complete job of either. It's neither a full blown review of her thirty year career or a broad enough survey to allow me to walk away feeling like I completely know what she's about as an artist. Superficially I know Sherman is a photographer exploring the meaning of identity, using herself as her model, but on a deeper level I had many questions. The show has little text to reflect on and Sherman herself has left every image named simply: "Untitled".

The show is undeniably interesting, it's hard for towering color photos not to be impressive and, the gaze of Sherman as model, is a hard gaze to turn away from. Included in this show is her Untitled Film Stills, a series of black and white seemingly real but fake movie stills that show Sherman in various states of cinematic female whodunit. I enjoyed these the most but could have appreciated them more if they were on their own and allowed to fully take over a room, rather then squeezed into a corner. Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

There were just a few small nods to Sherman's early career, cut out dolls overlapping each other, that give just the barest hint at where she started, but the majority of the work seemed focused on the middle and later part of her career. I left with many questions. And, so, I'm going to pretend a little here, if we could ask Cindy Sherman three questions, what would they be?

Here's mine:

1. Are you tired of using yourself as your model?
2. Have you ever wanted to change medium?
3. If you could do any other job what would it be?

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