July 9, 2012

Listener Sightings of Cindy Sherman! 

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Untitled 119 by Cindy Sherman - (C) 1983

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Ira writes:

In our episode "Switcheroo" we invited listeners to write us if they believe they've spotted Cindy Sherman or someone claiming to be Cindy Sherman at her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. We got three responses, none of them matching the woman at MoMA who ran into Ira and Etgar, and told them that she was Cindy Sherman. Lance Weiss wrote:

The day before the exhibit was closing at MOMA my wife and I went to see it.

We were just about at the end when we saw a woman who was dressed over the top in a rock meets punk meets disco way. She was white, late 50s with a short, spiky, multicolored hair/wig, layered scarves, colorful blouse and hanging leather strap waist length necklaces with metal legends like "Rock and Roll."

She was by herself, carefully going through the exhibit and drawing a certain amount of initial attention and then New Yorker blasé acceptance. But you could see that several attendees -- myself included -- began to think that it was Cindy Sherman.

I was semi-stalking her, trying to compare her mouth to the way the mouth went down more on one side in many of the pictures in the exhibit. Finally my wife just decided to ask her. She said she wasn't but that she was really pleased that we thought she was. She said her name was Jerrie Disco and she worked for Hypergenic magazine, neither of which turned up later in a Google search. She took a picture of herself with me in the background. We chatted very pleasantly a little more and left unsure, wondering if that photo was ever going to be the basis for something.

A listener named David White sent this, saying "I know it was really her:"

I posted this on my Facebook page on March 3rd. The day after the experience.

I MET CINDY SHERMAN: On the 5th floor of MoMA, Cindy Sherman has a retrospective show of her life's work. The work uses costumes and makeup to comment on and obscure her identity or role as a woman, artist, and human. Last night as I walked around staring at the portraits of one of the most influential feminist artist in the world I was looking into the only common denominator in all her work, her eyes. Several points of the evening I made eye contact with a amazingly overweight woman, that looked to be more interested in the people in the gallery, than the work. I suddenly realized that the eye's in the photos where the very same as ones of the woman in the crowd. The more I looked the more sure I was. Cindy was taking in the height of her life's work in perfect makeup and a fat suit. I introduced myself and she introduced herself as Terry, then later as Debbie when someone she had met earlier in the evening walked up. We spoke about art, society, banned work and the immensity of the show. I realize what I write here can never recreate the experience or accurately portray what it was like...

To expand, I was with a friend and as I sat with Cindy, My friend came sat down next to me. I introduced my friend Crystal to "Terry." All the while her not knowing Cindy and my little secret. Cindy and I kept talking. She said that she had came to the event through a meet up group. Where their plan was to go to the exhibition and then to dinner afterward to talk about the show. I was exhausted from my day at work and probably not showing my interest in the show but that couldn't be less true. I've admired Cindy since I first learned of her in college. I was surprised to see the expanse of her work. I didn't know about her darker period and her banned work. While talking with Cindy we discussed how I thought shock art was dead considering the state of media.

The point I knew it was her was when she walked by me after making eye contact for the third time. I saw her eyes they were the same as the eyes in her work. She looked to be 300 lbs in her fat suit, it doesn't seem right to call it a fat suit... Anyway, as she walked by me she was amazingly light on her feet and I saw her skip for just a second. I knew then... she said hi and sat down. I looked at her face and the makeup was flawless. That costume was flawless. It must of cost thousands of dollars...

And finally, an artist named Tim Sheesley sent this interestingly ambivalent sighting:

I was so happy to hear that someone else saw Cindy Sherman at MOMA. You made my day. I thought I was delusional.

Here's my story. On Friday May 18 at 1:30 I purchased my ticket for MOMA. At about 2:15 I made it to the Sherman exhibit. Having known about Cindy Sherman's work for some time I never really got a good full scale big show overview of her work and I thought this would be a great time to see what her work was all about. Either I would get it or I wouldn't.

I went up the escalator and was confronted by those big portrait photos out side of the galleries. I studied those pictures carefully. They were impressive. I started to watch the crowd a bit and I spotted someone standing off to the side near the balcony railing also watching the crowd. I thought that person looks kind of like the person in these photos. I started looking back and forth between the photos and the person watching us. Then our eyes met and I realized that she was watching me watch her. I was all but certain that it was Cindy. We were about 30 feet apart. Then I doubted myself and thought I must be crazy. I thought about walking up to her and asking if she was Cindy but I decided not to.

I went through the exhibition and could not shake thinking I saw the real Cindy. By the time I finished looking at those photos I started looking at the people looking at the photos and by this time lots of the people looking at the photos looked like many of the stereotypes she was portraying. Her show really got to me! It was great.

So if it was Cindy that was really cool. If it wasn't that is even more cool because in a way everyone is Cindy. Whatever happened, it made me see her work in a way that I would never have understood it.

So my question to you is was she really making regular visits, or was it a hired Cindy look-alike, or was the work that strong to make us think we really saw her?

We sent these accounts to Cindy Sherman. She replied that none of them were her.

The exhibit moves to San Francisco MoMA this coming weekend. It's great, by the way. Bay Area listeners - if you spot the artist, spot someone impersonating the artist, or decide to impersonate the artist yourself, please drop us a line! The email address: [email protected].