Cindy Sherman is an American photographer who is currently based in New York and whose most famous work involves conceptual photography. Besides her multiple-persona-style-type self portraits in all their glorious absurdness, I like her best for her centerfold photography. No, I haven’t gone out of my mind.
Sherman is perhaps most noted for her Centerfold Series from 1981. Without leaving any metallic taste in her mouth, the irony in portraying her fully dressed body (as if showing the aftermath of being raped) in centerfold speaks volumes.
“In content I wanted a man opening up the magazine to suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be. Looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim. I didn’t think of them as victims at the time… But I suppose… Obviously I’m trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation.” – Cindy Sherman
Above is the photo of Cindy’s that caught my eye first. It also happens to be the most expensive photograph in the world—it sold for $3,890,500 at a Christie’s auction. You know what? Modesty is money… or gold… whatever sounds better.
If you plan on looking at Sherman’s other series, I must warn you that some of them are not for the faint of heart. The sexuality series might be a bit offensive to some, so if you want to spare your eyes from Christmas on Mars type of images (I’m sure there is a better movie to explain this, but I really am not into genitalia art), I’d stay away from that particular one. I must say, I must applaud her for this very bold and clever endeavor. Although she doesn’t consider herself a feminist or a spiritual person (as far as I know), I find her advancement against women’s objectivity attractive.
The other day I was flipping through (sealed) vintage magazines of all kinds at our local vintage treasure trove, and it’s incredible to see how drastically different the pre-war Playboy magazine covers were in comparison to today’s. I saw nothing but somewhat modest clothes on the cover (of course, that is always subjective). I really hate to think about what adult entertainment is going to be like in the future. “Adult” is just a euphemism used by the sex industry to justify what kind of audience X-rated material is intended for—that’s most of us I presume. Child pornography then is a euphemistic oxymoron (with emphasis on the second half of the latter word).
I didn’t realize how strongly didactic photography could be until Sherman came along. The trendier, flashier, and more digital photography has become, the more it has begun to leave a bad taste in my mouth. For me, photography has to be more than just the irony of capturing the still “beauty” of life while manipulating it, or enhancing reality to make it attractive to an agreeable majority. Truth be told, we are all guilty of distorting our own realities, of wanting to make ourselves or anything that reflects us better than our actual selves. When does it become unhealthy or even just plain commercial? I think that if your goals are noble and truly (not in an amoral sense) benefit more than just yourself (like in Sherman’s case), then a different projection of yourself is justifiably art in action.