Tim Adams “Cindy Sherman: ‘Why am I in these photos?’” https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/03/cindy-sherman-interview-retrospective-motivation


Being in Sherman’s studio inevitably feels a bit like being inside a dressing-up box. There are racks of silk gowns and shelves full of false nails and false eyebrows and prosthetic flesh and horror masks. She fossicks in thrift stores and yard sales for furs and costume jewellery. The studio gives on to her kitchen and living room, blurring the lines between her life and work. “I’m not a nine-to-five kind of artist,” she says. Sometimes she doesn’t come into the studio for days; sometimes she is trying on other lives for size until the early hours.

In the middle of all the props and in the centre of the room are the lights and cameras and mirrors and the green-screen backdrop that allow Sherman to perfect her uncanny illusions. The ghosts of some of those conjured characters seem to inhabit the space. Looking at her piles of source material and cuttings, you half expect her to announce as the old impressionist used to: “And this is me”.


I’m interested to know why her current photographs return her altered image to centre stage, in the more direct way that she was escaping from for much of that past. Partly it is to do with the emotional aspects of ageing, her sense of mortality. She has, she says, come through a “few rough years” and, like the heroines she inhabits, lived to tell the tale.

Some of these issues – “health and just getting older” – took her by surprise a little. “A few years of not shooting and then switching over to a higher resolution camera really brought it home to me,” she says with a smile. “Now it is not like adding wrinkles to look older; it is using the wrinkles I already have to say something else. What is disturbing is not seeing more lines on my face but seeing that the range of possibilities of what I can do is much more limited. I guess I could go for looking like I was 100 if I wanted to, but looking younger than 50 is now a stretch.”

She wants her pictures to embrace that fact; elsewhere, she has talked about how she admires the determination of 61-year-old academic Mary Beard to appear on television looking how a 61-year-old woman looks*2. “I think my work has often been about how women are portrayed in the media,” Sherman says, “and of course you don’t actually see that many portraits of older women or old women in fashion and film. So that’s part of it.”

In some ways, Sherman has been waiting all her life to get to this point. Her dressing up started early. There are pictures of her as a girl of 12 already wanting to know how it might feel to be old, bent over and disguised by thick prescription glasses, an old sun hat, her stockings bunched around her ankles. Now she is approaching pensionable age, it is with a sense of defiance and curiosity. She lives on her own these days or, as she says, “with my bird” (a 25-year-old macaw); happily so, she insists, after a string of not always happy romances, including a long love affair with the singer David Byrne, which ended four or five years ago.

デヴィッド・バーン*3との「情事」というのは知らなかった。また、今引用した部分にあるdressing upはmaking upとともに、シャーマンを(が)語る上での重要な鍵言葉であるといえる。

(…) In the recent past, she has transformed herself into a series of middle-American wives and ex-wives, Botoxed and wearing the marks of surgical enhancement like scars of war; the current pictures are more dignified.

How much does she want them to tell a particular story? I wonder. “I want there to be hints of narrative everywhere in the image so that people can make up their own stories about them,” she says. “But I don’t want to have my own narrative and force it on to them. And it shouldn’t seem so real that it looks like it was shot in a studio today. I want it to transcend time somehow.” The pictures begin to work, she suggests, to become affecting and estranging, when there is some ambivalence about them, rather than any kind of fixed emotion.

She wants her characters to take on a life of their own, like a novelist’s?

“Yes. Quite often I will do something and think, oh no, she looks a little too much like me. I have tried to learn not to be afraid of that when that happens. I am not trying to obliterate myself and completely hide within the images like I used to. I am a little more comfortable now in letting parts of myself show through.”


(…) Sherman grew up in suburban Long Island, the youngest of five children, with a nine-year age gap between her and the next sibling. “It was like I was an only child,” she says. “It was strange because it was like I wasn’t part of their family when I arrived because they had already existed for so many years before I came along.” The original impulse to dress up, she says, was born out of this anxiety. She adopts a girlish voice. “It was like: don’t leave me behind, you guys, remember I am still here!” She wanted to keep her family interested in her. “I thought: if you don’t like me like this maybe you will like me like this? With curly hair? Or like this?”

She worked out some of her fantasies in front of the TV. “There was a show that was called The Million Dollar Movie. Every day at the same time they would play the same movie. I watched King Kong over and over. And other schlocky horror movies, Japanese monster movies. I remember a little friend of mine, she was eight and I was 10 and she was scared of the monsters. I remember saying, ‘It’s OK, they are all fake.’ I would sit and draw from them or sculpt little things while I was watching TV. I have had a lifelong fascination with horror movies, scary movies, how they work.”


To start with, after she came to live in New York, the dressing up was a way to conquer shyness. She would experiment with her face, making it up to look older or like a man’s. She turned up at parties in character, as a pregnant woman, or as Lucille Ball [the actor and star of 1950s US sitcom I Love Lucy*4]. Eventually, her lover and fellow artist Robert Longo*5 encouraged her to photograph her transformations. New York in the 1980s seemed primed for her fluid identity.

The cliche of the city, I guess, is that it allows anyone to reinvent themselves – was that the attraction? “It was very strange,” she says. “I only grew up an hour away, but my family had this big fear of the city. The only times we would come in would be to go to Radio City Music Hall at Christmas. I never went to any museums, we had one art book in the house: The World’s 100 Most Beautiful Paintings. The most recent was by Salvador Dalí. I was scared of the city until I was done in college really. Then one day I was visiting New York and I saw the artist Vito Acconci*6 just walking around SoHo. He had given a talk at my college and it suddenly struck me: that was a life you could live here.”


When she was making those early pictures, was there a sense of losing herself in the work?

“Not often,” she says. “But there have been times when I have just caught a glimpse of a reflection and thought: that is not me. That is somebody else. I love it when that happens. I am star-struck that this apparition has been created.”

Why does she think she loves that sense, which for some people might be alienating?

She suggests it goes back to her childhood again, in particular to her relationship with her parents. “Making these photographs [of divas],” she says, “I’ve reflected back on my mother. When she was my age she really seemed like an old lady. She was 44 when she had me, and back in the 1950s that was pretty old. My dad was 49 when I was born. They were as old as my friends’ grandparents and they looked like that too. My mother was like a martyr, a good person, but good almost to a fault. She would try to make me always be this good girl. When I was a teenager I rebelled somewhat, but it affected my adulthood in that I found it very hard to stand up for myself or to learn how to do that. I think I grew up deferring to other people. I think that was her always saying I had to be nice to people.”

And her father?

“He was stern but mostly he was just mean and bigoted,” she says. “He was just so selfish, couldn’t appreciate the family he had, the loving wife he had. It was ultimately more pathetic than anything. When we children got together after he died we found that the thing we missed most was telling each other the mean story that had happened to us that week: like what did he do to you? I would be like, ‘He wrote me this horrible letter.’ It was ridiculous, the things he would do.”

Some of Sherman’s desire to reinvent herself endlessly seems rooted in this autobiography when she talks, but it doesn’t quite seem enough somehow to explain the full compulsion of her work, the need in it. I have a sense that I get a bit closer to that need when I ask her in passing later in our conversation what her siblings did, whether they were artistic?

“No,” she says. “My sister got married when she was 16 and I was a baby when she left the house; she is 15 years older than me, she started a cooking school. I have no recollection of her or my oldest brother living at home. One brother killed himself when he was 27. My other brother, he is just retired now. He did computer stuff.”

兄の自殺に続いて、前夫であるMichel Auder*7との共依存的な関係が語られるが、それは飛ばして、

“It’s the one face you look at every day your whole life,” she says. “But of course you are looking at yourself in reverse so you never actually know what you look like. Photography can be similar. I remember an early boyfriend. I thought: he is just so handsome, and I would show a picture to somebody and they would not see it at all. In a still photo you only sometimes get the essence of a person. I have always been fascinated by why that happens.”

I suggest that one of the reasons her photographs continue to have their resonance is that they seem to have pre-empted an age in which self-dramatisation has become mandatory. We can all invent profile pictures and new digital identities on a daily basis. Could she see that coming when she started out?

She says not. She doesn’t really think of Warhol as a touchstone for her work either. “If anything I think I was coming out of the tradition of artists who used their own body, like Chris Burden*8 or Bruce Nauman*9. That tradition of conceptual performance.”


Andrew Frost “Cindy Sherman review – high-society selfies by quintessential postmodernist” https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/may/30/cindy-sherman-review-high-society-selfies-by-quintessential-postmodernist
Simon Hattenstone “Cindy Sherman: Me, myself and I” https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/jan/15/cindy-sherman-interview


*1:See eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cindy_Sherman Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080313/1205376643

*2:See Elizabeth Day “Mary Beard: I almost didn't feel such generic, violent misogyny was about me” https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jan/26/mary-beard-question-time-internet-trolls

*3:http://www.davidbyrne.com/ See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20060810/1155177382 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070831/1188527985 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090330/1238350475 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090824/1251056271 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110922/1316629894 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080809/1218304271 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090309/1236622473 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090917/1253211853 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110910/1315671133 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20111012/1318389065 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20131012/1381596884 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20140927/1411833989

*4:Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110308/1299514076

*5:http://www.robertlongo.com/ See eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Longo

*6:http://www.acconci.com/ See eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vito_Acconci

*7:http://www.michelauder.com/ See eg. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Auder

*8:See eg. Jon Bewley and Jonty Tarbuck “Chris Burden obituary” https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/14/chris-burden “Chris Burden” http://www.theartstory.org/artist-burden-chris.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Burden

*9:See eg. Adrian Searle “Artist Bruce Nauman's carnage-littered carousel will blow your mind” https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/jan/30/bruce-nauman-art-hauser-wirth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Nauman

*10:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150122/1421940978 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150203/1422983900 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150225/1424833404 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160103/1451840047 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160107/1452130435 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160304/1457097666 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160310/1457624745

*11:Mentioned in http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20050816 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070602/1180723693 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080715/1216139452 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20080814/1218732998 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090803/1249270941 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20091204/1259897253 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100426/1272303905 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110905/1315193782 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120507/1336361971 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20120917/1347861071 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20140103/1388727355 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141211/1418315439 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20151228/1451230040 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160622/1466607830