March 4, 2009 | Comments ()

By Seth Freilich | Trailers | March 4, 2009 |

Dustin typically flies his feminist flag high around these parts. While I prefer to be a loutish pig, I’m going to have to let my feminist flag up a little today because of Cindy Sherman. I discovered the artist through a college course and wound up writing a paper about her which I’m sure I would find wildly overwrought and pretentious were I to read it today. But it came from a good place because I thought, and still think, that Sherman is brilliant (some might even say she’s a genius, pointing to her 1995 MacArthur Fellowship as evidence).

Primarily a photographer, Sherman is most well-known for her Untitled Film Stills, a series of photographs featuring Sherman in various get-ups with assorted props and framed as stills of an unnamed actress from a familiar-feeling, but not actual, film. In the ’80s and ’90s, she continued to take self-portrait photographs, fashioned as historical portraits, soft-core sex shots, and fairy tale images, among others. Her work is fascinating and many consider it strongly feminist even though she only takes the feminism bent so far: “The work is what it is and hopefully it’s seen as feminist work, or feminist-advised work, but I’m not going to go around espousing theoretical bullshit about feminist stuff.”

I bring her up because a trailer for Guest of Cindy Sherman has just sprung up. The documentary, which showed at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, was created by Paul H-O, a cable TV host who dated Sherman for a number of years. As a Salon column from last year explained:

“Guest of Cindy Sherman” … feels more like three or four docs fused into one entertaining (and sometimes squirm-inducing) concoction. We get a sidelong view of the art world and its symbiotic relationship with commerce and celebrity, as well as an exploration of the awkward life of a famous person’s “plus one.” (H-O’s own complaints are bulked up by an amusing interview with Elton John’s companion, David Furnish.) At the center of it all is Sherman, in a fragmented portrait of a woman H-O calls “the most famous mystery girl of art,” a photographer who has used her own image as the basis for a hugely influential body of work.

Sherman famously disassociated herself from the film, which is a shame, but it doesn’t lessen my interest in seeing the flick (even though the douchey-named H-O looks to come off as a bit of a dorky sexist):

"The challenge is more about trying to make what you can't think of"

Art, Gender and Ritual / Seth Freilich

Trailers | March 4, 2009 | Comments ()

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