I went to the AGO on Wednesday for my semiotics class. We were supposed to be checking out the Beautiful Fictions exhibition on the 5th floor to examine identity, art etc. in photography.
What impressed me first was the focus on Identity seems to always come from those individuals who are marked, identity wise. Women, people of colour and queer identified people continue to examine identities in ways that unmarked individuals seem unable to grasp. I believe it’s called the “transparency phenomenon”. Those unmarked individuals are unable to grasp the magnitude of difference. I particularly enjoyed Yasumasa Morimura’s portrait of 9 faces, a recreation of Rembrandt with all parties bearing the face of Morimura. His juxtaposition of his racial difference within the context of canonical western art is a great play on the west’s domination of the arts.
Anyway, in this exhibit there was one particular photograph by Cindy Sherman that was fascinating. In our class discussion afterword it turned out to be a popular piece. Somehow, I managed to not see how it evoked the vagina and birth, at least my classmates were on the ball. It truly does, and I find the green, and the disembodied eye suggest a monstrosity, particularly the monstrous feminine. This is of course interesting in relation to the notion of birth, because it is woman’s ability to give birth that marks them as different and monstrous from men.
Visually, I find the cut directly under her chin particularly striking in contrast with her green body. I feel that the red and the blood evokes so much of what it means to be a woman. There is always blood for us, menstrual blood, blood from the hymen, and blood from birth. Blood marks our pain, and our obligations to men.
The eye on top seems to represent spirituality as it faces the heavens. Women are the bearers of tradition, culture and spirituality. It also evokes the seventh chakra, Sahasrara, absolute perception and full consciousness. It is the highest level of human awareness.
So, basically, Cindy Sherman is fucking awesome. She is more well known for her photos that appear to be movie stills as she plays with female stereotypes used by the movie industry. She knows that’s going on.