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Untitled Film Still #82
© Cindy Sherman; courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
This is one of nine Untitled Film Stills in "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution," at the Museum of Contemporary Art through July 16.
Rather than strive for originality, art should now take as its subject the imagery that already exists in our mediasaturated age. That, anyway, is the belief of the postmodernists, and in an essay for the "WACK!" catalogue, Abigail Solomon-Godeau argues that this new idea of the artist rejects an old one based on "conceptions of selfhood associated with authenticity: a self-present, unified, and sovereign ego."
Jackson Pollock was the very model of the old ideal, and Cindy Sherman is the prime example of the new one. It's surprising how little attention Solomon-Godeau pays to Sherman, considering that the title of her essay, "The Woman Who Never Was," fits Sherman perfectly. Sherman realized that the fictitious film stills for which she photographed herself should evoke forgotten B-movie actresses women who weren't famous even for 15 minutes rather than recognizable Hollywood stars. In defiance of the tradition of the artist as genius, Sherman has remained nearly anonymous too.
In No. 82, hidden away behind two doors, she becomes a closet case. She is so far from us that her own lack of an identity and the obscurity of the role she plays collapse in on themselves to form the sort of black hole in which stardom itself is extinguished.
[Originally published in West Magazine : May 13, 2007, p.9]