Cindy Sherman’s photographs have proven “prescient”, according to QAGOMA curator Ellie Buttrose.
She was mistress of the selfie well before it was defined as such. However, her work is directed at the representation of women (an ongoing discussion in the Western world), parodying the often ridiculous lure of fashion in the presentation of ourselves.
“Sherman explores the mid/late life phase of women with humour and empathy,” Buttrose says. “This comes at a time in which we construct our identity continuously with images (using social media).”
Her exhibition at QAGOMA is the first major show of Sherman’s work in Australia since 2000 and will describe the change to her approach over this period, including the resumption of her practice of being her own photographic model, using wigs, costumes, prosthetics and makeup to become the characters she portrays. Also new is her use of digital media, allowing for a spectacularly large scale and the presence of multiple selves.
Five-metre-high characters fill a major mural that will dominate the gallery space, and the exhibition includes her latest series, to be shown first in New York in early May and in Brisbane immediately afterward. Subjects of these new works are Hollywood characters played by Sherman, inspired by 1930s films.
Also in the show is Clowns, which emerged after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in Sherman’s home of New York, and the Society portraits, modelled on well known socialites.
For Buttrose, the strength of Sherman’s work lies in her observations. “She has deep love for these characters and by inhabiting them she becomes one of us. While we all want to be good feminists, we are sucked into those fashion moments. She portrays our love/hate relationship with fashion, and its conflicts.”
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
28 May – 3 October