Artworks
Untitled Film Still #35
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In Untitled Film Still #35, Cindy channels her inner movie star.

This image raises a few questions, such as who is she portraying, and what on Earth was she thinking when she bought that dress? This work is part of her Untitled Film series, a look at women in 1950s culture and cinema. Madonna  sponsored an exhibition on it at the MoMA so you know it must be a pretty big deal. The image resembles a trope the actress Sofia Loren frequently portrayed- a disgruntled but attractive housewife in postwar Italy. Cindy is showing that even when engaging in boring, everyday activities like cleaning house, the patriarchy will still insist on sexualizing all women. With that being said, I sincerely hope at least someone got around to rubbing a wet cloth on that door. 

Cindy might stay clear of clean entranceways, but she isn’t afraid to show that she owns her art. The wire beneath her leads to a shutter release remote in her hand that she uses to take her pictures. Cindy includes some part of the remote in other images in her series. This statement accessory shows that she is in control of the narrative. In doing this, she takes away the power from the male gaze to herself. She felt so passionately about this idea that the series ended up with 69 different images of her playing dress up. She continued her series into 1980 until she called it quits, claiming her jar of clichés to be empty. 

That didn’t necessarily mean Cindy was done as an artist. In the 1980s, she was tapped to create a centerfold for Artforum magazine, but the editor found her image too racy to be printed. In a world where Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass exists, a woman wearing a pink robe was deemed too inappropriate for viewers’ eyes. Though it’s not certain, the rumor is that her mid-1980s series Disasters and Fairy Tales was a direct response to this rejection. She moved her inspiration to the portrayal of women in horror films, violence, and sometimes they wore pig snouts because, why not? She stopped taking selfies for this series and started using models, but I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t want an image of me as a pig hanging in a museum either.

 

Sources

Sources

  1. “Cindy Sherman,” MoMA, June 1997, https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1997/sherman/
  2. Erin Farrell, “Cindy Sherman: Expectations for Women,” Art Without Pretense, 30 June 2010, http://www.artwithoutpretense.com/2010/06/cindy-sherman-expectations-for...
  3. G. Rodger Denson, “Cindy Sherman as Orson Welles... as John Ford... as Vittorio De Sica... as Alfred Hitchcock... as...,” Huffington Post, 5 March 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/g-roger denson/before-there-was-cindy-sh_b_1312622.html
  4. “Untitled Film #35,” Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2017, https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/369.1986/