By Leilani Hatch
Within our Western culture, the media dominates. Pressure to conform to certain ways of dressing or behaving as a woman is a recurrent theme throughout the saturation of images. Cindy Sherman has been praised as one of society’s most influencial, respected post-modern artists. Her work is of a unique style; developed by using herself in her photographs as a means to analyze and confront the numerous ways in which female identity is constructed within a consumer culture. As well as challenging stereotypes of women and their representation in society, Sherman also questions notions of the gaze.
For over thirty years, Cindy Sherman has maintained a distinct style, by using herself as the sole model for all her elaborately staged images. In each series she produced, Sherman has used costumes, make-up, dramatic lighting, and props to transform herself into the personas that she photographs in the studio. Both humerous and harsh, Sherman’s work explores social stereotypes of women and their representation in the media, from films to magazine centrefolds and fashion advertisements. What emerges through her images is the analysis of individual identity, both the desires that it generates and the forces that shape it.
Along with our parents the mass media raised us, socialized us, entertained us, comforted us, deceived us, disciplined us, told us what we could do and told us what we couldn’t do…they played a key role in turning each of us into not only one woman but many women…this has been one of the mass media’s most important legacies for the female consciousness: the erosion of anything resembling a unified self. (Cruz, 1997, Pg1).
Sherman’s photographs of herself began in 1977 with the Untitled Film Stills, perhaps the most well-known, recognisable work of her career so far. Sherman acts out the roles of typical Hollywood B-movie actresses. Behind the guise of wigs, hats, dresses, clothes & make-up Sherman plays out a type,...