Female gaze
Cindy Sherman: Want to be a heroine?

Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes. To create her photographs, Sherman shoots alone in her studio, assuming multiple roles as author, director, make-up artist, hairstylist, wardrobe mistress, and model. These black-and-white photographs feature the artist herself as a model in various costumes and poses and are her portrayals of female stereotypes found in film, television, and advertising. 


Cindy Sherman used the portrait as a space for the reinvention of the self, taking on new characters as an actor would take on roles, submerging herself inside a series of curious, quirky, and unsettling facades. Sherman conducted a fascinating masquerade, using photography to ensnare and unravel the complex relationships between the camera and the self.

The gaze in contemporary visual culture theory originated from French modern psychologist Lacan. Since the mid-1970s, feminist theorists have elucidated this concept.

The post-modernist period of 1970 and art begins to rethink itself completely: "Are there some things we take for granted, but not so taken for granted?" In the 1970s when the "gaze" theory entered film analysis,Cindy Sherman created a series of photographs called the "Untitled Stills" series, which looked like American film stills of various female stars. The heroines in these "stills" are all performed Sherman herself, which means that there is no corresponding movie in these stills. She has conducted a fascinating masquerade, using photography to ensnare and unravel the complex relationships between the camera and the self. 

Why do these fake stills make us feel familiar without a doubt? Is it because all American movies use a similar formula? Sherman's work explores the typical gaze angles of women in American film. It is because the descriptions of women in the film are identical, so Sherman's fake stills will be familiar.

At the same time, Sherman's self-portrait also represents herself as a woman, how to accept the imagination of mainstream movies and establish her own identity. Every woman dreams of becoming a heroine in a movie one day, but she also unknowingly agrees with the expectations of the heroine in the movie. And the values of the smuggling in the film. Sherman's self-performance is to reflect and remind himself not to accept the gaze of women in the movie smoothly.

Sherman's work which describes women are simultaneously subject and object, underscoring the fact that agency is often a matter of perspective rather than reality. Her series Centerfolds(1981) was more significant still, accentuating the anonymity of the ubiquitous woman in film, television, and magazines.  Presented for our seeing, we can quickly realize that we have no clue about - who, what, and why. 

Whether it is conventions, contemporary and historical, Sherman’s exploration of what representation is and does have infused — whom it gaze and who gets from a woman as passive being to behold.

Support reading

Paul Moorhouse(2013)Cindy Sherman (Phaidon Focus), Electronic document.,Phaidon Press

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