For her latest show at Sprüth Magers London, Cindy Sherman has produced a series of new large-scale murals. They depict a variety of strange and eccentric characters wearing nondescript attire, set upon an extravagant printed woodland backdrop. They are of course, the artist herself, dressed up and disguised as she once again takes on the role of model, director and photographer. This, Untitled (2010) series also sees Sherman replace her traditional framed photographic style with a new printed mural – a change that reinforces the diversity of her practice.
Since the 1970s Sherman has used her own body as a tool, manipulating and disguising it to create outlandish characters. These personas are often very confrontational and are used as commentary on issues concerning gender, sexuality and woman's role within society. To coincide with the show’s opening, we spoke to the gallery’s director, Andreas Gegner about what makes Cindy Sherman’s work so exciting.
Dazed Digital: What fuelled the decision to exhibit Cindy Sherman’s new works?
Andreas Gegner: Sprüth Magers Berlin London has been representing Cindy Sherman's work since the early 1980s and has been showing all new series of the artist ever since. Every new series of Cindy Sherman is an exciting happening that we are very proud to be able to present. With this new series, it's even more exciting as we are able to show these works before their US premiere which will happen as part of Cindy's retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in February next year.
DD: These new works take on a new format, in which large-scale murals have replaced her framed photographic style. Why did that change occur?
Andreas Gegner: Cindy is always trying to challenge herself and the audience for her work. With this new work she leaves the path of traditional framed photography and takes it to another level. The large-scale format - for most of the time – occupies the domain of the male artist. Already with her last series – ‘the US socialites’ - Cindy was challenging their domain and putting herself in the same - more than justified - right place.
DD: Her work has always depicted a variety of personas. Can you talk to us about the personas in these new works?
Andreas Gegner: The various personas animating this new body of work were created as shrines to nondescript, eccentric characters, who might also be seen to denote sentries, guarding the entrance to some fabled land, casting ambiguous and disconcerting glances at the viewer. Each character poses against an incongruous backdrop - a landscape image printed in black and white - reminiscent of ‘toile’: a type of decorating pattern frequently used on home furnishings and wallpaper.
Indeed Sherman’s abandonment of make-up in favor of minor digital adjustments unintentionally results in the disquieting affect that each figure stems from the same ‘family’. Sherman’s decision to eschew make-up as the most effective means of accentuating or de-emphasising the features brings us back to her earlier works such as the Rear Screen Projections series from the early 1980s, whereby she used subtle distortions in lighting, camera angle and costume to achieve a contrasting look.
DD: Her career has spun over three decades, why do you think her work has been so successful?
Andreas Gegner: Cindy Sherman has always managed to stay true to her work, while keeping it fresh. She is a very focused artist who doesn't allow herself to get distracted too much by what's going on around her. She is a very sensitive person and an independent character. All this translates into a body of work that has kept its integrity over the years and continues to fascinate its audience. Cindy is not allowing herself to stop evolving, that's what makes great and important artists
Cindy Sherman opens tomorrow and will run until 19th February 2011 at Sprüth Magers, London