At a costume party, we know what to expect. People are free to take on a new persona; people are not who they seem. Hiding behind a mask is all in good fun.
Not so with Cindy Sherman’s huge costume party of a solo show
at the Museum of Modern Art (on view through June 17, 2012). We know
Sherman herself is behind the mask; she is the subject of all 170
photographs and appears as a different person in each one.
costumes often mimic nature: freckles, scars, tattoos, hair, wrinkles,
pregnancy. We don’t usually expect those sorts of attributes to be fake.
Sherman makes us wonder: When we encounter a stranger, is what we see
what we get? Can we tell from outward appearances that a person is
trustworthy or kind? We have to figure that out on our own, as Sherman’s
work reminds us. We have to look more deeply and rely upon gut
The image above, “Untitled #140,” is part of the Nasher
Museum’s permanent collection and was recently on view. The pig disguise
makes sense in the context of the thorough MoMA exhibition, which
features the artist as clown, Renaissance explorer, pregnant woman,
grandmother, bombshell, school marm and many more.
More from MoMA’s
website: “To create her photographs, she assumes multiple roles of
photographer, model, makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist and wardrobe
mistress. With an arsenal of wigs, costumes, makeup, prosthetics and
props, Sherman has deftly altered her physique and surroundings to
create a myriad of intriguing tableaus and characters, from screen
siren to clown to aging socialite. Bringing together more than 170
photographs, this retrospective survey traces the artist’s career from
the mid 1970s to the present.”
IMAGE: Cindy Sherman, “Untitled
#140,” 1985. Color coupler print, 71 15/16 x 48 1/16 inches (182.7 x
122.1 cm). Edition 6 of 6. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA. Museum Purchase. 1992.9.1.
© Cindy Sherman.