indy prefers not to comment on her Instagram posts.”
This was the reply from Cindy Sherman’s New York gallery, Metro Pictures, when I asked for a statement. A private Instagram account run by Sherman featuring a new series of selfies was recently made public, creating an art world sensation overnight. Sherman has a long history of dramatically staged self-portraiture, and in a sense pioneered the idea of the “selfie” decades before social media began.
Art world luminaries are fawning over the images, sharing their thoughts in the comments underneath each post. But a mystery still lingers. Part of the confusion is that the work seems to be made specifically for Instagram, and not as a physical work for a future show in a gallery. With no clarification from Sherman herself, it makes for a fascinating quandary.
Sherman’s Instagram posts are a series of wildly distorted selfies, flower arrangements and disturbing hospital self-portraits, with oxygen tubes up her nostrils. There is a video shot from the perspective of someone lying in a hospital bed. The viewer is made to wonder how much of this is real, whether Sherman was actually hospitalized, or if it’s mere fabrication. The images are also affected by an array of decorative filters available on Instagram that animate or change the facial features of users. The line between real life and posed events that Instagram affords heightens the confusion as to what is actually happening.
That area between real life and the theatre of the selfie is what Sherman is already so adept at presenting, but in the context of an era where Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized women for their physical appearance, her images of distorted female faces take on a much more defiant tone. read more