I am working on my 3rd or 4th draft of the essay on Cindy Sherman. My task is not helped by finding an interview where she explicitly repudiates any "feminist" reading of her images.
After reading that statement, I can only assume that she was looking for the biggest bang to get the biggest buck and in that she succeeded. But it does not make me respect her at all; the more courageous women who were producing art at the same time that she began have mostly been relegated to the back seat of art history.
The work of the much despised term "feminist" artists like Hannah Wilke, Adrian Piper and Eleanor Antin who used their bodies to make more radical and hard hitting commentaries on Western women in the 20th century have been relegated to the sidelines of "women's history."
Pia Stern, an artist and a friend of mine pointed out a recent article in Art News (April 2012) on Calude Cahun: "All by Her Selves Photographing herself in provocative disguises, Claude Cahun was a forerunner to Cindy Sherman and Lady Gaga." So Sherman isn't even that revolutionary in her decision to use her body to make statements - it's hard to say of what, other than a love of dressing up and role playing.
But she ends up with a museum show while the others do not.
Pia's web page: http://www.piastern.com/
It's our loss and an example of both politics and museum hype. The artist who is not particularly critical of society ends up with money and praise while the true radicals are dismissed with faint praise. So while I am rewriting this darn piece, I am again left with the feeling of sad disgust at museum politics.
But all is not lost while we have the songs by this group of mostly African- American musicians who really did have hard times but made joyous music.