Cindy Sherman- Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
By Elizabeth Ralph
The return of Cindy Sherman as the model of her 2000’s works is currently on display at the
Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. The anticipation for the famed artist’s display is exacerbated due to it
being her first Australian exhibiton in 15 years. Sherman’s work spans forty years, her
abilities in masquerade places her as one of the world’s most formidable photographic artists. Sherman’s
importance to the art industry is exemplified by the display of her works in galleries such as
Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, Museum of Modern Art- New York and the Walker Art Centre.
Upon entering the exhibition, you are greeted with Sherman’s Head Shots series. The series depicts
a variety of glammed up characters that Sherman has constructed using her arsenal of talents
inclusive of makeup artistry and costuming. The characters demand the audience’s attention, each
character drips with an abundance that pleads to be aesthetically pleasing to the ‘social’. Yet despite
the character’s intention they are perverse to the ambitions of the gendered constructs of the
‘desirable’. Sherman’s ability to critique the codified gender roles is undoubtedly influenced by her
fruition as an artist taking place on the back-end of the American Feminism wave of the 70’s.
The traditional portraiture style implores naturally a pretence of acting for any person being
depicted, the character’s performance is purely judged by the ability to be believed. The
characters of Head Shots, through their excess, undermine the public image they wish to install and deny the
realities of their embodied experiences. Sherman’s expert use of mass media and fashion signifiers
throughout Head Shots, stimulates the audience to question the narcissism inherent to the current
media and selfie generation, further substantiating her place amongst the ‘Picture Generation’.
Sherman’s return as the model within her works enables her to achieve greater control over the
production of the character, while simultaneously allowing each character to be recognisable in their
universality and be lost in the ambiguity of the masquerade. The collection highlights the
relationship between the privatised self and the public actor, suggesting a sacredness and comicality
to these aspired norms.
Cindy Sherman’s work will be hosted by GOMA until the 3rd of October. The exhibition provides an
excellent opportunity for the public to question their own perspectives on gender, the social, age