Let me say right away that I had no idea who Cindy Sherman was before I went to MOMA to see the incredible Cindy Sherman exhibit that everyone is walking around Manhattan shaking their heads in disbelief about.
"They can't all be her!"
"How did she change her face?"
"I've never seen anything like it."
You could hear these whispers rolling through the halls of MOMA. Maybe that was the point -- to crawl into the skin of an iconic image and tear down our perceived reality.
Ms. Sherman spent most of her life taking photographs of other people that were, essentially, herself. She was the subject of her pictures, director, photographer and stylist, and assumed their inner-most thoughts and projected personalities as I've never seen before.
What was incredible, as I walked through the hundreds of photos, was how she herself became part of the image. How the character of a woman on a couch holding a phone, waiting for someone to call was just another object in the scene.
Often times models dominate the photograph, but Cindy Sherman had a way of blending in, as if the human body was just another piece of decoration.
However, the eyes of each character she embodied were trying to turn around the reality of what was happening behind the pose.
I often found myself asking, "Who's there?" -- not only with the pictures that hung on the walls, but of the people I saw afterwards. How much of ourselves truly exists beneath our outfits, make-up, haircuts and other projections of who we want to be seen as?
When looking at Sherman's pictures, you had a feeling that you'd seen all of these people before. She climbed inside the image of a person, pointed the camera out through their eyes, and showed the viewer what the model was seeing.
Had you not known that all of the models were the same person, you'd think it was an exhibition of little girls that had grown up and played dress-up in their mother's closet (and sometimes their father's closet) and came out not only with the clothes, but the oddest parts of their personalities.
Ranging from pin-ups girls, to lumberjacks, to Victorian royalty, to trapped-in-high-society women, to re-arranged genitalia, Cindy Sherman tricked you into thinking you were looking at women, but she really stepped inside of them and was forcing you to look through their eyes.
Seeing her work was one of the most intimate experiences I've ever had with photography. Walking out of the museum that day, I felt as if the streets were populated by the people in those photographs. The blur between celebrity and everyday people was non-recognizable.
Perhaps that was the point of it all: Stripping down humanity.
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