Chapter

Photograph(er): Cindy Sherman and the Masquerade

Peter Childs

in Texts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620432
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671700 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620432.003.0009
Photograph(er): Cindy Sherman and the Masquerade

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The ‘Untitled Film Stills’ feature women in poses that suggest the narratives of unmade films they might accompany. The construction of each of those narratives, however, belongs to the viewer and would suggest both the viewer’s own phantasies and also the cultural narratives the media present everyday. The women in the stills are frequently staring into mirrors, regarding themselves as they are regarded, acknowledging how they are specularly constructed in the visual field. Many are looking towards an off-screen other. While the images look composed the women themselves are rarely so; instead the poses are more often of women agitated or anxious, suggesting vulnerability and/or desperation to different viewers. Where the images are of women who could be called composed, their posture appears unrelaxed and the pose self-consciously ‘struck’. Yet, to ascribe any characteristics to the staged figures in the photographs immediately involves the viewer in the personification of models whose only reality is Sherman’s masquerade, aligning the formal genre as much with catalogue shots, glamour magazine images, or softcore pornography, as movie publicity stills.

Keywords: Feminism; Cindy Sherman; photography

Chapter.  4694 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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