Cindy Sherman, is a type of photographer who tries to reinvent herself by pulling away from the heard of photographers out there and trying new and different styles.
Viewing Cindy Sherman set of photographs entitled ‘film stills’ , the casual viewer may think they were photographed on a movie set which the leading lady presents herself in the guise of various serotypes of femininity innocent, downtrodden, and the glamorous, yet Sherman took these photographs just purely as an experiment at the start and built up a collection of 69 images. The viewer’s relationship to Sherman could be seen as one of photography and film, combining different mediums to market a saleable product. Her ability to perfectly represent these incompatible qualities and stimulate discussion from all walks of life in a single photographic image.
‘She’s (Sherman) good enough to be a real actress’1
Sherman has pushed the boundaries of photography and in 1983 she was commissioned for a fashion shoot, in which she added her own twist, she did not use the conventions of desirable beauties, but of fashion victims, she takes on the role as a feminist.
“The still must tease with the promise of a story the viewer of it itches to be told.”2 Cindy Sherman
In the 1960s Andy Warhol took cinema away from narrative and motion and close to the stillness of photography. His first film, comprising six hours of a sleeping man, was an almost pure expression of time passing, ending in a freeze frame (Sleep, 1963).
His ‘Screen Tests’ (1964–6) were single-take short films of friends and celebrities (the sitters), the ‘sitters’ remained before his 16mm movie camera for four minutes, the length of a film spool. Often Warhol would simply walk away leaving the camera rolling and the sitter to do as they wished: sit bored, stare into the camera, flirt with it, pose or act up. The films were lit like noir-ish film stills or more flatly like a passport photo booth, which Warhol also used to make simple time lapse portraits. Unsure as to quite what the Screen Tests were, Warhol toyed with calling them Living Portrait Boxes or Film Portraits this became a new age of experimental film making, thinking as a photographer not as a filmmaker.
But it was Kiss (1964), a string of three-minute shots of couples in almost motionless embrace that caused Irving Blum to question his vision. ‘I looked and looked and looked and looked and looked and I said, “It’s a still. It’s not a motion picture at all” . . . at one moment I remember Marisol blinking, and the shocked response of everybody in the audience.’
This makes me question and wonder did Andy Warhol short films and photographic collection ‘self portrait’ 1967, influence or inspire Cindy Sherman to create ‘Film Stills’ (1977 – 1980) photographic collection? I emailed Cindy Sherman and as of this date I haven’t received a reply.
1 – Sherman, Cindy ‘Film Stills’ 2003 The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Second Edition
2 – Edson, Laurie 2001 ‘Reading Relationally: Postmodern Perspectives on Literature and Art’ The University of Michigan Press pp.23
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