Chameleon Photographer

The other day, I picked up this new book on a whim, as it was displayed just beside the "hole-in-the-wall" at the library where you return your books. It´s a publication by MoMA from this year, "Cindy Sherman", about, well, Cindy Sherman. She is, as you may or may not know, a famous photographer of the artistic kind.

I have been aware of her work as long as I can remember, reading about it and seeing her pictures in magazines of different kinds. I can´t remember any particular exhibition that I actually went to, but I may have been exposed to her work that way, too. I mostly associate her with the collection Film Stills that she made in the 70´s. She does there, and has continued to, use herself as a model in her photograps, and she has transformed herself to take any and every role you can imagine.

One reason that Sherman has stuck with me, is that every time I see her, or a version of her, I think about how important it is how we choose to look. Certainly, for most of us, that is a more or less unconscious choice, but it is a choice all the same. Even being "natural" in a world where it is normal to tweek and enhance, is affected in a way, particularly if you´re a woman. Ok, here in northern Sweden going without makeup is not controversial or unusual, but I bet in some cities, in some arenas of activity, it would be quite strange (and perhaps brave) to meet the world bare-faced.

I could easily dress head to toe in something like Gudrun Sj√∂den, wear my hair in a blunt, red-coloured, fringed bob, wear blue-framed glasses and put on twenty pounds. And you would percieve me as being a completely different person. Or, I could perm my hair, high-light it, surgically correct my myopia, wear tights for trousers with high-heeled boots, short biker-jackets and statement handbags full of studs. Both those options would be ok, I would look perfectly acceptable in this world, but it wouldn´t be me. Not as I´m known today. And I´m sure that each of those possible personas would inspire different responses in the people I meet, give me different kinds of opportunities, and subject me to different kinds of influences. It´s important to dress for the life you want, and sometimes I wonder where I would have been and what I would have done today if I had favoured a different aesthetic.

Unfortunately, the book made me sneeze pretty badly, so after a quick leaf-through, I returned it. But there is plenty of Sherman´s work on the internet, for anyone who is curious.

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