From the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association – Where Every Story Has Three Sides
By Vanessa Moore Ardolino, Wedge Arts Reviewer
In an exhibit featuring over 150 images of the same woman, one would think that the Walker Art Gallery’s “Cindy Sherman,” would actually reveal the real Cindy Sherman to viewers. Look into her eyes in each photograph. She’s not there. Perhaps that’s not quite what I mean. Someone else is in there – the person she is portraying in the picture.
Using costumes, makeup, prosthetics and wigs, Sherman transforms herself in every picture. It is baffling to learn that she usually performs all the duties required for the photo shoots – setting the scenes and lighting, applying the makeup, being the model.
It is a shame all her photographs are entitled “Untitled,” and then a number. Her doing so makes it difficult for a reviewer to describe the images simply for the reader. Nevertheless, each room of the exhibition hosts a different era of her works, and they fall into descriptive themes.
These themes start with Sherman rendering her photographs as if they are the property of voyeurs – portraying her characters the way an outside party may want to see them (“Untitled Film Stills,” 1977-80; “12 Centerfolds,” 1981). Then this voyeurism appears to remove her humanity entirely (“Sex Pictures,” 1992) only to resurface in the next room as exaggerated caricatures (“Clowns,” 2003-04). One of the last rooms exhibits Sherman in personas that are using photographs as a means to reassert their self image on a world that may have started to ignore them (“Society Portraits,” 2008).
The room that holds the “History Portraits,” (1988-90), makes viewers feel like they are truly in a European-style portrait gallery. As usual, the images are meant to be of anonymous people, but many of the poses and settings seem familiar. Apparently, only one image is an actual remake – Sherman dressed as the artist Caravaggio as he appears in a 1594 self-portrait dressed as the god, Bacchus. Dizzying!
The end result in many of the pictures is unsettling. Her use of prosthetics is often overt, and the emotions she projects can almost be overwhelming. It is possible to spend an afternoon trying to deconstruct each picture and still feel there is more to discover. I recommend trying it for yourself.
“Cindy Sherman” will be on display until February 17th. The Walker is located at 1750 Hennepin Avenue. For more information visit www.walkerart.org or call 612.375.7600.