22 July 2013
Let me know which you prefer and why.
Gracie (http://graciebinoya.com), Polly (http://watchingthephotoreels.com) and I began the iPhoneography Monday Challenge in February. Recently, we had a re-launch that made the challenge open to everyone who uses their Smartphones as their lens–exclusively, experimentally, frequently, occasionally, or back-up. If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. Please use the current badge until a new one is created, which will be ready sometime this month.
“I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.” — Cindy Sherman, Photographer
Without question the quintessential portraitist of the recent past and present is American artist Cindy Sherman. Her aesthetic oeuvre is not to replicate herself or others. Each photograph is a fictional persona–a persona that shouts substantive commentary.
Sherman’s portfolio consists of staged exhibits that punch the viewer with so much more than artistic photographs. Each image proclaims a place within the context of our culture and society, showing individual identity within the human condition.
Mostly, her visualizations are staggeringly provocative and thought-provoking. Oh, and she’s the model for each rendering.
Human nature dictates that we immortalize ourselves, and photographs are an avenue to fulfill this need. But photographers such as Sherman are inspired by an almost incomparable vision of the world that we inhabit; they give us a different way to see humanity.
Her feminist philosophy is encased in her art. This interpretation is glue that has held her body of work together for over thirty years.
Early illustrators used some of the same techniques to imagine historic events (e.g., the Brandywine School of artists that re-imaged what someone looked like, initiated what could have been, dressed in period costumes, manipulated history). Sherman explores the past and present through a veneer of her imagination and the veil of history. Click here to watch an Art21 (PBS) short film about Sherman.
This post is an ode to Sherman’s contribution to art history, photography and even mainstream life. Her work has redefined the way that “we”‘ see portraits and self-portraits. I compare it to the way literature has been wrestling with autobiography, memoir and non-fiction.
In the Lens section are my five entries for this challenge, using (almost) portraiture as the theme. I’ve never enjoyed having my photograph taken. When I imagined experimentation with self-portraiture (which is the rage among phoneographers–see Tip of the Week), the vision was an abstraction of who I am. My almost self-portraits leave much to the viewer’s imagination.
Every photograph speaks loudly and silently about its maker. The bits and pieces of me sans face are composed to give you no more or less than I am willing.
Regardless of the content portraiture exemplifies an individual’s ability to hide and reveal. That inherent nature within an artist’s work is the essence of Sherman’s mission: to steer clear of her own private life and use fictional characters to blend content and context into representative images. But, more importantly, to stir the viewer’s sense of reality within history and our current social milieu.
Tip of the Week: One of today’s infectious trends is the selfie, which is a strange phenomenon where the phoneographer is the subject of the photograph. It represents a twist on the usual photograph. Originally, these images were created when the subject could not locate a friend or passerby, but now this archive of selfies is fixated within the culture. Hope that you will give it a try. Whether you take a traditional or an unconventional approach, have fun with it. I’d like to see what you do. Send me a sample.
Note: As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog.
See other entries here:
Here’s a reminder of the weekly schedule and themes for upcoming Phoneography Monday Challenges:
1st Monday: Nature
2nd Monday: Macro
3rd Monday: Black-and-White
4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).