Cindy Sherman and Narrative

It is only recently that I have come to appreciate Sherman’s work.  At first to me they seemed too contrived, too constructed, even too pessimistic.  But now after having done some research into this type of staged photography, I have come to like her work.

In the MoMa interviews a light bulb went on regarding  narrative in photography.  Jumping ahead to assignment 5, I didn’t understand why were given the option to make a single photograph when the umbrella theme of the course is context and narrative.  Through the different videos of artists and curators talking about Sherman’s work, I learned that narrative can be seen in the before and after of the photograph.  For example, in her film still #60, she is clearly in the process of lighting a cigarette, however, something off camera makes her pause.  So there is an implied before and after in this image that creates a narrative.

Cindy Sherman #60

The other is #466.  In this, there is a ‘true narrative and a darker narrative’ and the darker narrative comes from the cheap, plastic pink shoes and the varicose vein stockings. It tells us a story yet also retains a certain amount of mystery, like any good narrative would do. Joanna Burton talks about the photographs being ‘the pregnant moment’ with no need for the narrative since there is a beginning middle and end in her images.

Cindy Sherman #466
Cindy Sherman #466

In the MoMa interviews, people were talking about how Cimdy Sherman has forever changed the art world and how important this work is.  I still don’t see that, because I think the work of Dorothea Lange is more important because of the content, but I enjoy Sherman’s work and definitely her creativity and technical skills.





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