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Latest Wexner Center gallery showcases career of popular photographer

The Wexner Center for the Arts will celebrate the career of photographer and film director Cindy Sherman in its latest gallery.

Opening Saturday, “Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life” is a career-spanning survey where viewers will see everything from her influential “Untitled Film Stills,” where she employs makeup, costumes, lighting and scenery to present herself as generic art-house and B-movie stars, to her most recent 2016 series, where she takes on the guise of aging Hollywood divas.

Apart from The Broad, a contemporary art museum in Los Angeles, the Wexner Center will be the only other stop on the gallery’s exhibition.

The gallery opening will also be accompanied by an opening reception Friday at 5:30 p.m., which will include panel talk from curators Bill Horrigan and Philipp Kaiser and an opening reception

A photograph from Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills,” called Untitled #122, 1983, where she employs makeup, costumes, lighting and scenery to present herself as generic art house and B-movie stars. | Credit: Courtesy of Cindy Sherman and Metro Pictures, New York.

The Wexner Center exhibition will also include a free, celebrity-studded audio guide, featuring the voices of Molly Ringwald and movie producer John Waters, and also will include Sherman’s 2017 feature film “Office Killer.”

Bill Horrigan, curator for the Wexner Center, praised Sherman’s innovation on the art of the photograph, specifically pointing to her ability to work on both sides of the camera.

“At some point when selfies started coming out, people were saying ‘Sherman invented the selfie,’ in fact it’s the complete opposite,” he said. “If the selfie is about enclosure, she’s about concealment –– you never see the real Cindy.”

Philipp Kaiser, the exhibition’s curator, also pointed to Sherman’s way of maintaining the same theme of self in all her works.  

“Sherman’s different bodies of work are based on one single idea: the imitation of self,” Kaiser said. “The complexity of her series, the irony and depth are quintessential for the abyss of self and identity in general.”

The Wexner Center usually executes exhibitions on this grand of scale through a group of curators and directors, and for Horrigan, appealing to the Ohio State community is always a top priority in choosing artists.

“We pick artists and exhibitions we think people would respond to, and we have to make sure they belong to artists whose works we admire,” he said. “We also want great enthusiasm knowing that it’s able to translate to a student population –– we never forget we’re part of the university.”

Kaiser said throughout her works, Sherman continues to raise crucial questions about the pervasive influence of mass media in constructing identity – and particularly the representation of women.

“Cindy is probably the most iconic female artist of our generation, with radical, relentless and merciless works,” Kaiser said. “The seductive surfaces of her photographs pull you in and reveal how powerful mass media’s representation still is.”

The exhibit will run through Dec. 31, and admission is free for students and $8 for the general public.

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