Friday, October 12, 2012

Cindy Sherman Does Closets

Cindy Sherman (Cynthia Morris Sherman), Untitled #405, 2000, color photograph
Periodically I organize my clothes closet which is what I'm doing at home at the moment.  In the outside world, I've been giving tours of the current SFMOMACindy Sherman retrospective before the museum closes for its major expansion.  
Sherman, an American photographer, film director and winner of prestigious awards like the Hasselblad Award and MacArthur Fellowship, has long been in the business of exposing human artifice.  Her conceptual portraits reveal more about her subject (often herself in many guises) than the person intended.  In enormous, close-up glossy we see too much make-up actually calling attention to the wrinkles it was intended to hide.  We see the anxiety behind the smiles, the striving in the choice of hairdo or blouse. The subtle omnipresence of decay, ugliness even horror that life entails, the aspects of life the sitter is attempting to belie, are right there.  It's sad.
It is also jarring; there's is something hard to reconcile between organizing your wardrobe/closets/look and going to a Cindy Sherman retrospective. In spite of all that Sherman exposes and that we take in about her portratis, we, in our real lives must put on a look, if, for no other reason than there are laws about how much we can expose ourselves in public.  Most of us, I at least, strive for an appearance that expresses myself in the moment (or at least the season or the year).  It seems to me to be necessary artifice.  But if we integrate Sherman's reveals into our efforts, the caution is not to make too much of our look, not to confuse our representations with our true identities.  (Tall order).

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2010/2012; color photograph; 24 x 34 3/4 in.