27 June – 15 September 2019 @National Portrait Gallery
The retrospective at The National Portrait Gallery explores the development of Sherman’s artistic career from the 1970s, presenting around 150 works between private and public collections, plus works never presented before.
Cindy plays like a child and jokes while dressing up in flashy clothes belonging to different ages and history. Focusing on the manipulation of one’s own image, the tension between identity and appearance transforms each photograph into a personal question that is constantly addressed to the observer – what do we mean by reality?
The materials she uses are resources stolen from different worlds and cultures, such as movies, advertising, fashion. Mixing anger, parody and cynicism, attributes the American artist contantly puts in her work, she creates self-portraits that show versatile visions and reconstructions of an identity in parallel worlds. The observer is transported into a story made of artfully created deception; costumes, atmospheres and cinematic lights openly call for fraud.
An illusion that both amazes and conceals at the same time, where Cindy virtually stops being herself to simply become another version: from a woman left alone to cry in a motel to a painting by Caravaggio; from private detective, to a wealthy woman in luxury apartments in Manhattan; from a film diva to postman. And the women depicted in the retrospective are contradictory in age and social status – we know full well that our artist is 65 but she manages to make us believe she is 20, so here we go.
Cindy tries to make you believe that all this is real, showing you how good the simulation can be, how fake the artifice of film, theater and beauty is. Then she lowers the curtains and asks you to wake up. And you almost simultaneously realize it was all a bluff.