Throughout ten rooms the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin offers a chronological and illustrative journey through the work of one of the most important figures of the recent art scene: Cindy Sherman (New Jersey, 1954), in what amounts to the most exhaustive retrospective to date of the artist. Organized by the Jeu de Paume in Paris, this show began its voyage in the Ffench capital last summer and continued on to the Kunsthaus Bregenz and the Louisiana Museum for Moderne Kunst in Humlebæk, where it could be seen at the beginning of this year. Two decades of artistic production, from 1975 and 2005, show how Sherman troubles the established schemes of gender and the functions adjudicated to the photographer’s role by replanting the possibilities of the self-portrait and offering a new gaze toward who captures and stars in a snapshot.
This exhibit, besides presenting a selection of Sherman’s best series, exhibits the fun black and white video Doll Clothes (1975), a harbinger of the concept of the artist’s later work in which Sherman herself appears photographed as a flat doll, manipulated by a hand that plays with her figure by trying various outfits on her—just like those dolls dressed with cut-out patterns. After the video come two outstanding series: Untitled Film Stills (1977-1980), in which an important group of images in black and white small format trap the spectator in a universe of transitory instants that offer the most pure and unfettered essence of Sherman. She incorporates the most classic social and cultural stereotypes of the contemporary woman, along with the representation of female roles coming from the most authentic tradition of B movies. This series is followed by Busrider (1976-2005), through which Sherman recurs to masculine and feminine stereotypes to entertain the public with a fascinating catalogue of everyday personalities. The exposition continues with all sorts of pieces that, with the passing of the years, demonstrate the important enlargement of format and speak also of how the North American photographer went losing her shyness, invading practically the entire frame with her own image and going deeper into topics of deeper conceptual and visual force. 1986 marks a turn in Sherman’s work. She ceases to star in her images, even though in some series her likeness continues to be present in a hidden and fragmented way. The coherence that characterizes the work of this photographer is reinforced by addressing a variety of topics that continue to strengthen the re-positioning of the gaze of the material maker, conceptual director, and actress, in a work that’s increasingly introspective and critical, and that penetrates much more deeply than in previous years into the psychological identity of the characters. Series that stand out include Civil War (1991), in which dark snapshots show scenes of destruction with mutilated body parts; Mask (1994-1996), in which images of terrifying masks with strong colors intimidate the spectator; Broken Dolls (1999) and Sex Pictures (1992), defined by violence and eroticism, exhibit tender and grotesque dolls, respectively, where the close-ups of the bodies in suggestive poses speaks, rather, of the extravagance that Sherman had reached in her endeavors. The variety and quality of these endeavors are amazing, and despite the inadequate lighting that many of the pieces had in the Berlin center, this retrospective leaves all of its visitors with an appealing approach to what is the deepening of an artistic experimentation carried out with great humor, irony, and critical spirit.
ARTECONTEXTO. Arte, cultura, nuevos medios. Madrid, No. 15. pp. 110-111.
“Cindy Sherman”. Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlín
15.06.07 – 10.09.07critical art, feminist art, photography, individual
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Topic: 2007, ...Texts of exhibitions, Norteamerican Art, Past exhibitions Tags: critical art, feminist art, photography, individual