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Master photographer’s lively resistance

Posted August. 30, 2019 07:39,   

Updated August. 30, 2019 07:39


Selfies are one of the numerous changes brought about by smartphones. Currently, a search of “#selfie” on Instagram would generate more than 403 million posts. American photographer Cindy Sherman attracts attention by joining the selfie bandwagon. Sherman’s photographs are somewhat different from ordinary selfies posted on social media. She uses various filters to create funny and distorted images. Her works are showcased in the “Youth Before Age” international exhibition held at the Coreana Cosmetics Museum in southern Seoul.

It is no exaggeration to say that Sherman’s works in the 1980s are original selfies. Her famous “Untitled Film Stills” (1977-1980) captures various looks of Sherman dressed up as a female character that would appear on Alfred Hitchcock’s films. She showed her identity in diverse forms by featuring different hair colors or clothes. Depicting herself in many different contexts and as various imagined characters in subsequent 1981 “Centerfolds” and 1992 “Sex Pictures” series, she became a legendary photographer who raise questions about the images of women in mass media or portraying changeable female desires.

Viewed in such a context, her “ruined” images seen at the exhibition in Seoul are not the results of silly pranks. Rather, they are read as a resistance against social media keen on seeking nothing but temporary brilliance. Isn’t it that her works lay bare the true faces of crowds pointing their smartphone cameras at people or objects anytime and anywhere.

Sherman does not present her selfies as one series. She consented to the exhibition after receiving a message explaining the theme and intention of the show. This is reportedly the second time after an exhibition in China that she made her selfies public. Her Seoul exhibition will be held through November 9.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com