In her series of 12 Centerfolds made in 1981, Cindy Sherman herself poses in a range of situations, each suggesting heightened emotional states and violent narratives. The Centerfolds continued the investigations into female identity that Sherman began in the mid 1970s. After studying painting at Buffalo State College in New York, she started to explore issues that interested her by dressing up and photographing herself performing in imaginary scenarios.
This led to the breakthrough series Untitled Film Stills 1977–80, printed as small black and white images. Sherman cast herself playing archetypal roles constructed for women in popular culture—the femme fatale, the housewife, the office worker. She has described her way of finding her ‘characters’, who she has stated are not biographical but reflections of ourselves: ‘I guess it’s a memory or an image or something, but something clicks.’[i] Becoming aware of the artifice and constructed nature of Sherman’s photography, viewers could then apply this critical thinking to the way that women are portrayed in popular culture.
[i] Gerald Marzorati, ‘Imitation of life’, ARTnews, vol. 82 no. 7, September 1983, p 81.
See more works by this artist in the NGA collection