We’re living in a time when people of all persuasions have become bolder than ever about the ways they choose to express themselves: with a colourful palette of possibilities, You are the Artist, You are your own Subject, and no matter how fearfully you begin, you become fearless in the process
MAC Press Release – Cindy Sherman campaign
I’m still unsure about Cindy Sherman’s collaboration with MAC cosmetics. On the one hand it’s a relief not to be presented with stereotypically unattainable images of “beauty” in a make-up campaign BUT it still makes my stomach a bit churny and I wonder why…
For starters, despite being an “Artist”, “my own Subject” and a long-time fan of Cindy Sherman, I am still the wrong target audience for the advert. Whenever I have tried to wear make-up, I’ve found that rather than feeling confident behind my mask, I feel hugely self-conscious and uncomfortable. I feel like a fraud and I feel claustrophobic.
What I have always admired about Cindy Sherman’s photographs is her ability to present a cast of characters we recognize and possibly even relate to. We are able to do this, because she shows us what we are (even if it is sometimes grotesque). Her work reflects, rather than preaches. Her photographs show us what we can be, but never what we should be. However, in the shift from Art to Advertising, this is no longer true. In this collaboration, her images work to tell us what we should be – they preach, and I hate being told what to do or how to be. Even though Sherman’s stylings are unusual-ish within the narrow confines of the cosmetics industry, the underlying message is painfully bog-standard: it is only by buying the product that the consumer can be “better”… all her usual subtleties around identity and image disappear in a (powder) puff of smoke.
I have always equated “fearlessness” to overcoming pressure, not succumbing to it. In the end, that remains true even if the pressure is coming via an Artist whose work I usually admire.