Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life
Interview: Philipp Kaiser – Guest Curator
A retrospective of Cindy Sherman’s photography and film is heading to Los Angeles from June 11 and will be the first collection of its scale to exhibit in the movie capital of the world in over twenty years.
Considering Sherman’s cinematic oeuvre and in particular her multiple stagings of Hollywood’s feminine cliche, you’d be puzzled as to why it’s taken so long for Sherman to return to the city. For The Broad, there’s a lot to brag about. Eli and Edythe Broad boast the largest collection of Cindy Sherman’s work with Imitation of Life being the first of their special exhibitions at their new downtown museum and exhibition space. Sherman’s work is in good company, sitting next to relevant contemporary exhibitions and big names in American modern and postmodern art like Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha and Gregory Crewdson – all from The Broad’s vast collection.
I spoke to Philipp Kaiser, guest curator for Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life.
GL: Why do you think it’s been twenty years since Cindy Sherman’s last retrospective/exhibit in Los Angeles?
PK: It is an honor to be working on Cindy Sherman’s first major museum exhibition in Los Angeles in nearly twenty years. Presented here in Los Angeles, the heart of the filmmaking industry, this exhibition revisits Sherman’s work through her deep engagement with mass media and popular cinema. Eli and Edythe Broad have collected Cindy Sherman’s work since the early 1980s, and have some of the largest holdings in the world. The Broad collection represents every body of work the artist has produced to date. This exhibition presents a comprehensive survey of Sherman’s highly acclaimed career.
GL: How did you get involved?
PK: The Broad invited me to be the guest curator for this show. I have worked with many artists of the so-called Pictures Generation, James Welling, Louise Lawler, Jack Goldstein, and Barbara Kruger – artists who combine interests in popular culture and conceptualism – and I am thrilled to be curating Cindy Sherman Imitation of Life at The Broad.
GL: Why is Cindy Sherman still relevant today and is still such an influence on contemporary culture and in particular on female photographers and artists?
PK: For forty years Cindy Sherman has produced some of the most iconic and influential artworks of our time. Photographing herself and usually working alone, Sherman has portrayed a large cast of characters. Using the languages of media—from cinema and television to advertising, the Internet, and even old master paintings—she creates work that disrupts assumptions about beauty, status, vanity, and art itself.
GL: What kind of input did you have with the artist in curating this exhibition?
PK: Cindy Sherman has been integral in each step of the planning of this exhibition. I have encouraged her to emphasize the cinematic influences on her work, agreeing it was the perfect theme for an exhibition in Los Angeles, the home of the filmmaking industry. We are thrilled to be featuring two full-wall murals that Cindy has specially conceived for this exhibition.
GL: What has been the most challenging?
PK: It has been a huge privilege to work with Cindy Sherman’s artwork in the Broad collection. My curatorial effort has been to turn the Broad collection’s comprehensive holdings of Sherman’s work into a meaningful show, which requires editing, sorting, and generating connections between the series, as well as identifying and securing key loans.
GL: What are you most excited for viewers to see?
PK: Several new works that Cindy Sherman just premiered in New York at her gallery, Metro Pictures a few weeks ago will be on view. These works, inspired by the silent film era, will be shown for the first time in Los Angeles. The exhibition is framed with works that reference film; it will begin with Cindy Sherman’s 1980 rear-screen projection photographs—reimagined as two massive murals—in which Sherman used a cinematic technique, and will end with the new works, inspired by film stars of a century ago.
GL: The Broad is a relatively new space in Los Angeles. What do you see as its strengths?
PK: Eli Broad’s decision to locate The Broad downtown has made the museum an approachable space that is accessible to diverse audiences. The Broad enriches the cultural life of Los Angeles. Starting the special exhibitions with Cindy Sherman highlights the Broad collection’s emphasis on artwork that ties conceptual ideas with popular culture references. In addition to showing the extensive Broad collection, Cindy Sherman Imitation of Life is the first special exhibition at The Broad, which will showcase relevant contemporary exhibitions.
Interview by Ginger Liu
Ginger Liu is a photographer, writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles and London.
Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life
June 11 – October 2, 2016
221 S. Grand Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90012
MSA in Manchester is to exhibit the artist group show ‘Accidental Archives,’ with contributions from Los Angeles and London based artist, Ginger Liu. GLIU will exhibit her multimedia work, The Johanneans #4, which showcases an autobiographical visual reading of family, migration, memory and identity. Color photographic works by Ginger Liu are available for purchase as ‘Memories for Sale’ on the artist’s e-commerce Shopify website: Punctum #4.
The Johanneans #4 by Ginger Liu
The work consists of The Punctum -125 color photographs produced from scanned copies from the green family photo album and pricked through the center on a paper or invoice spike. The Family Photo Album – a vintage 1960’s photo album bought on eBay. Punctum #4 is a live Shopify e-commerce website displayed on an i-Pad where consumers can purchase individual photographs or memories for $1,000. The audio – Dear Noni and John is read by me and out of sequence, it forms a random element of this work and accompanies the e-commerce website
From the opening image of the artist’s family boarding the SS United States Ship from Southampton to their arrival in New York and ultimately Los Angeles. Her father’s memoir, mother’s notes and aunt’s letters form a narrative of a life journey and of a life chance.
If only. If only. Until the final image of a reluctant return to England.
Mixed media photo book
7×7 in, 18×18 cm, 88 pages
Oatmeal linen hardcover.
Memories for sale with the artist’s customized e-commerce website from Shopify.
Punctum #4 showcases reprints from scanned images of original color prints from the Family Photo Album where shoppers can purchase individual reprints of memories to form their own Family Photo Album.
Memories are precious. Each 5×5 or 5×3 C-Type print retails at $1,000.
The artist reads 100 plus letters written from June 1967 to March 1969 by Noni’s older sister Christine in Crosby, NW England. These letters form a narrative of the family’s immigration to the USA from England.
The incredible number of letters sent over a relatively short period of time is echoed in the artist’s gradual exasperation and fatigue from reading incessantly for 2:49:18.
Read out of sequence, they form a random element of this work.
One Paper Spike and multiple photographs reprinted from scans of original prints from the Family Photo Album which pricks, bruises me.
The Family Photo Album
Vintage 1960’s photo presentation album purchased from eBay stands in as a replica to the artist’s Family Photo Album.
The original deemed too precious with its photographs and memories of a journey and a birth.
Too precious to leave the artist’s house. The phony rests open and empty and bereft of memories.
The Johanneans #4:
Audio: Dear Noni and John: The artist reads 100 plus letters/correspondence between sisters Christine and Noni which form a narrative of her family’s immigration to the USA from England. Read out of sequence, they form the random element of this piece.
Punctum #4: iPad: Memories for Sale through professional e-commerce site Shopify. Individual images from the family album sell for $1,000.
The Punctum: Paper Spike and Images from the family photo album which pricks, bruises me.
The Johanneans #4: Monograph Artist Book
The Family Photo Album: Vintage 1960’s album from eBay
The Johanneans #4
25 March – 24 April, 2016
MSA at MMU
Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6BH
0758 577 1083
My work consists of The Punctum -125 color photographs produced from scanned copies from the green family photo album and pricked through the center on a paper or invoice spike. The Family Photo Album – a vintage 1960’s photo album bought on eBay. Punctum #4 is a live Shopify e-commerce website displayed on an i-Pad where consumers can purchase individual photographs or memories for $1,000. The audio – Dear Noni and John is read by me and out of sequence, it forms a random element of this work and accompanies the e-commerce website
The Johanneans #4
Memories for Sale – Shopify Punctum #4