Last week, Hannah from the club headed to Brisbane's GoMA to have a look at some of Cindy's Sherman's work currently exhibiting in the Fairfax Gallery. Here's what she had to say...
For the formal grumblings and summary of exhibition scroll to the bottom. For candid opinion, keep reading.
From the perspective of an art student the exhibition was great, Sherman translates her intended message really well to the viewer and does an ace job of manufacturing characters and communicating their stories, not unlike a painter might. GoMA's curating team also deserves a round of applause for their selection of an exhibition that's both starkly relevant 'right now' yet can be understood and enjoyed by Brisbane's (let's face it slightly culturally-naive) general public.
However, for those of you who are used to viewing more traditional forms of portraiture or social doc, Sherman's series may fall short. For me, good photography is the capturing of a real moment, expression or emotion and the photographer's skill is in not only their technical ability with their camera but more-so their ability to frame the moment to give the viewer all the necessary information in a single frame. So although photography is Sherman's main medium, for me this exhibition was definitely a visual art piece. So if you love Sherman then by all means you will love this exhibition, it definitely includes some of her best work. However, for those not familiar- this is not a photography exhibition, it's an instillation of an artist who uses photography to communicate a prefabricated idea.
Now for those grumblings...
GoMA's exhibition of Cindy Sherman focuses on Sherman's work from 2000 onward where she returns as the subject of her photographs. Throughout you observe Sherman's transition from film to digital image and the use of software to add, subtract and manipulate the image to achieve a desired narration, reflecting the artist's perspective on the synthetic nature of our image-driven society and false concept of identity. Stepping into the gallery space you enter a room filled with the portraits of women. As your eyes scan the frames you make vague deductions about the lives of the subjects- American, vain, Christian. It's not unlike social media really- How we do love to judge or more to the point- how we fear our own judgement. 'Head shots' opens the exhibition, the faces of aspiring actresses and models gleaming and glaring at the viewer from all walls, appealing to every stereotype of a middle-aged, middle-class woman.
'Society Portraits 2008' have a slightly different story to tell, whilst the representation of more mature women in our extreme youth-driven culture can become a controversial topic, this series shows the characters of older women, matrons and trophy-wives standing adorned in pearls and lush fabrics in the settings of their mansions; possessions supporting their place in higher society. Yet the hollowness of the characters is profound. The 'Society Portraits' were captured prior to 2008's Global Financial Crisis, however in light of this event the images take on different tone, accentuating the excess of such a lifestyle. Excess is a theme that continues into Sherman's new works of 2016, where early Hollywood acts as muse. The sequinned and feathered subject's full lives are evident in their clothing whilst the hard times that follows from 1920's depression resonated through background and the figure's expressions.
Finally the over-shadowing murals of the exhibition centers the space and creates a link or bulb from which each room pivots off. The larger than life figures gaze at you from their pedestals as you attempt to interpret their dress and mood. They were the last thing I viewed before making my way to the exit and their placement really grounds the exhibition, aligning Sherman's works so that on exiting the gallery you feel satisfied with it's intent.