Cindy Sherman [Tableaux/Portrait]

  • Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director.

Her most famous work (which I have been inspired by) are of her self portraits series called ‘untitled film stills,’ in these images Sherman places herself in her images and role plays as B-movie actresses. She would collect and wear different wigs, make-up, and clothing for different shoots, were she would play these characters for her images. She plays fictional roles – not actual people, roles that she has made up herself. Her roles are usually different stereotypes of women like a; housewife, prostitute, a woman crying or in distress, an actress or a dancer. Even though none of her images are the same, some of them link together – as she wears the same clothing, uses same props and in a similar (or exactly the same) locations, doing this expands on the stories in her work.

She recreates ‘common scene’ that might be seen in movies (like a woman getting ready to go out); the scenes that she creates each have their own stories to tell, they don’t require dialogue or any writing to tell us what is happening, however would that make any difference to her work? If I’m honest I’d still look at her work in the same way and try to make my own stories and deicide on my own what is going on. For example; I’ve looked at her images and often though that she was running away from someone, an ex-lover? from reality?

When creating images like tableaux; you need to be careful with what your models wear and what will be in the shot (set-up) and what props will be used. I don’t believe Sherman’s work is to be a tableaux but more portraits that are slightly narrative. But in these images; Sherman isn’t photographing herself, but she’s photographing herself as someone, I believe that portraits are to be personal and show people who you are, but again Sherman is acting as her own fictional characters, so does this how she feels? Does she feel connected to these characters she plays? Are they really her, but  portrayed as different people? Has she lived though the lives of her characters or are their stories based on Sherman’s life?

For one of my portrait ideas I wanted to ‘recreate’ the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland but have the characters’ portraits – I don’t want to illustrate the story, just have the shoot themed. But I’m worried that this would be wrong and the theme idea would illustrate it and then get mistaken for tableaux – when I want my portraits to be narrative.

I like Sherman work; she creates stories in her work and that’s what I would like to do for my tableaux work. However I want to base my work on someone else’s fictional characters; I don’t want to do exactly what Cindy Sherman does and create my own characters, because I don’t want to get penalized or criticize for people not being able to ‘identify’ or put a name to the characters. I was thinking of doing fairytale characters; but I felt that it’s been done too many times, also I’ve even done it for a previous project. So I wanted to look into roles that are not so well know of characters who are from books; but they are well know if you’ve read the books, I would like people to recognize the character/s and say things like; ‘that so and so from this book,’ but I don’t know if to do a well known book like Harry Potter or the Hunger Games or something I’ll be able to ‘recreate’ – like Stephen King’s Carrie!

  • Research for tableaux idea: “Based off books: I would like to look to Stephen King’s Carrie  and have a shoot based of the story.”
  • Research for portrait idea: “Theme, Alice in Wonderland: I could follow in the footsteps of Alice and recreate some of the memorial scene in the book (like the tea party).”


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