cindy sherman's untitled #276
i realized that i couldn't reiterate what the book said about the artist cindy sherman in any other way that would do justice to her work so here it is verbatim. it is phrased extremely powerfully.
the career of the american photographer cindy sherman addresses one of the more recent concerns of feminist artists: the fact that the traditional western image of the female- sweet, sexy, servile- has been shaped by male needs and values. such images, say contemporary feminists, which dominate the world's "great artworks," reflect the controlling power of the (male) "gaze." ... feminists like sherman make visual assaults on gender stereotypes-- those projected by the collective body of "great art" and by the modern-day phenomena of television, "girlie" magazines, and other mass media. sherman's large, glossy studio photographs of the 1970s feature the artist herself in poses and attire that call attention to the body as a political or sexual object. ... she recreates commercial stereotypes that mock the subservient roles that women play: the "little woman," the femme fatale, the baby doll, the "pinup," and the lovesick teenager.
in this particular photo, she represents cinderella, a famous female from western myth, and portrays her in a way that is radically different from any other representation and is polar opposite to that of say disney. probably the only similarity between disney's cinderella and sherman as cinderella is their blond hair. disney's cinderella is innocent, sweet, modestly dressed in a beautiful gown and jewels with a perfectly proportioned body stereotypical for an attractive female, waiting for her prince to come and take her away from her problems. however, sherman is made up to look like a prostitute. her dress is see through and her breasts are visible. her legs are spread and there is a big black bush that appears between them that made me question if that was her pubic hair. she looks anything but innocent as she assumes a confident, sexually charged attitude in a take me or leave me kind of posture. she looks like she could give a damn if her princes comes and perhaps she wouldn't even acknowledge him if he did arrive. ironically, she is holding a lily, which is according to my book, the traditional symbol of purity.
sherman completely reconstructed the image of cinderella.
originally when i was looking at this image, i called my friend over to look at it. i simply wanted to ask her opinion about the blackness under her dress. when she saw the photograph, she told me that the woman was really ugly and when i told her that this was supposed to be cinderella, she had a hard time believing it. i think that this is exactly what sherman wanted for this photograph. she wanted to present a sort of mind boggling image of such a stereotypical female icon in our society. also, i think that this reaction is typical, a symbol of the sexism present in our society, traditional beauty is good, a whore, unconventional beauty, a promiscuous woman, nudity is bad, dirty.
when i look at this picture i think about:
- body image, a realistic portrayal of a woman's body