What more can be said of the work of Cindy Sherman? An artist who has consistently produced works that interrogate and rework the notions of image construction and understanding through the use of her own image, Sherman’s photographic output has moved through an exceedingly broad selection of focal points and interests. There’s her selection of film still works, placing her image onto prints in a manner that seems to reference some disembodied section of an unseen classic, while elsewhere, her collection of hyper-specific portraits mines the notions of identity construction and affiliation in the modern cultural landscape.
This sense of the world and its varied constructions goes on full view at London’s National Portrait Gallery this summer, a show that spans her full artistic output and compiles a range of works that makes her investigations of the image itself all the more pointed. Her many persona (by some counts well over 600) playing on the understanding of type and contexts, usage and framing to create hyper-specific and often incisively funny results. Presented here, the sheer weight of her many constructions in one place creates an almost kaleidoscopic construction of the world, an exploration of time and space as traced by the passing years and the changing understandings of both history and the present, often locked into a delicate balance.
Dreams and memories make up the back-end of the exhibition, a sort of counterpoint to the works themselves that emphasize not only the cultural moorings that Sherman’s pieces play on and within, but equally the viewer’s own cultural literacy and viewing experiences, their own engagement with the passage of time and the cultural iconographies presented. The show, as a result, is as much an engagement with the viewer themselves, and how they feel the image, as it is a study in the construction of the image alone. Presented here are an echo chamber of thoughts and experiences moving back and forth between Sherman and gallery-goer. We see not so much the artist as the artwork, even as Sherman sits in plain view.
Each of these disparate modes and interests serve to create a startlingly deep picture of the world today, all accented by Sherman’s act of presence, or perhaps, her eradication of self in favor of the image.
— D. Creahan
Cindy Sherman [NPG]