For Mother’s Day my beloved spouse got me the book Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills.
In many ways this is a completely normal gift — I’ve always loved Cindy Sherman (well, except maybe her vomit-scapes, but overall: very much). But in one way it feels odd. Cindy Sherman — for Mother’s Day. It’s not that Cindy Sherman was or wasn’t a mother — it’s that she embodies so many different people.
The bulk of Sherman’s work is self-portraits taken in various “costumes.” I put “costumes” in quotes because what she does feels both simpler and more elaborate than that. Sometimes it’s just make-up. Sometimes it’s a wig, prosthetic parts — the works.
Is she creating? Is she exploring? Is she escaping? And isn’t motherhood — at least the mothering of small children — the same set of contradictions?
I want to help my twins explore and create. They’re exploring and creating their own lives — which rivals any kind of other creative work (writing, photography, etc.). But I also want to escape to my own life and my own writing and see what’s around the bend.
So I’ve decided to take a small stand and go to Sherman’s retrospective at the MoMA. This will be rather an undertaking, since I don’t live in New York and can’t just pop in on a rainy afternoon. But I feel like this is one of those things — something not to miss, a pivotal moment — you know, one of those things. And I also know that the twins will thrive having their dad all to themselves for a weekend.
We’ll see what happens. Miracles? Disappointment? Inspiration? Museum exhaustion? A sore back? A new appreciation for art and artists? A new big book of photographs for my bedside table? In a way it doesn’t matter. It’s the going and seeing that counts.
My favorite of the portraits:
Cindy Sherman, as herself