A Cindy Experience

I’m standing outside the City Gallery waiting to go into the Cindy Sherman show for one of my classes. Admittedly, I’m pretty nervous. What if I don’t get it? What would I say about it? Until last night I didn’t even know who Cindy Sherman was (cue gasps).

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I’ve never really attended an art gallery before. I’m not an ‘uncultured swine’ but I’m no artistic aficionado either so I’m in unchartered territory here. My thoughts on gallery attendees comprised of the wealthy and sophisticated tilting their heads at obscure pieces of art and using big words like ambivalent and incongruous.

I start walking around the first exhibit, titled ‘Clowns’, and I’m in this weird out of body experience where I feel like I should be contemplating the works on display, but my brain is too busy thinking ‘What am I supposed to be thinking?!’

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Cindy Sherman, Untitled. 2003-2004. Photo by author.

I know, it’s tragic. I continue for a bit, still trying to comprehend this strange new environment, before I decide to head into the next exhibit, ‘Head Shots’.

At this stage I feel like my brain has calmed a little and I begin to see a little clearer what it is I’m looking at. They are all portraits. They’re looking at you, some intently, some desperately. It’s a little sad. I look closer,noticing their poorly applied make up, their longing gazes. I realise that these portraits are not Cindy playing people, but Cindy playing people playing people.

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Cindy Sherman, Head Shots. 2000-2002. Photo by author.

These are women acting the stereotypical roles of the societal female – secretary, prom queen, house wife –  and in them I see myself. Not as a woman of course, but I see my own hopes and aspirations and feel the fear of failure and lost opportunity and despite this, I inwardly smile because I feel like I am ‘getting it’.

 

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