Lennon Becoming Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, #6, from Untitled Film Stills, 1977.

The second photographer I was drawn to was Cindy Sherman because I love her constructions of femininity and identity.  In her book, Untitled Film Stills, Sherman composes her photographs and places herself in “Female roles inspired by the movies”[1]   Although I love her grainy, black-and-white photographs and what they allude to conceptually about femininity in reference to various films, I found it a challenge to render Lennon in her style.  Just as Sherman studied films to formulate ideas for compositions, I studied Sherman’s photographs.[2]  I researched her photographs and decided to construct a photograph of Lennon that would formally allude to her style (rather than conceptually) since that seemed difficult due to the fact that Lennon is an uncooperative baby.  I knew I wanted to catch a solitary moment of her because Sherman’s photographs are “meant to be a solitary woman and some are meant to allude to another person outside the frame.”[3] I was toying around with ideas one night and was dressing Lennon in various highly feminized outfits when, suddenly, I envisioned a Sherman-like moment to capture.   Lennon was growing tired of these photo shoots and camera flashes in her face and at one point she threw herself down on the floor to throw a temper tantrum.

Polly Nance, Lennon is a Still #1, 2011. Digital image, 8 x 10 inches.

However, instead of crying she laid there stunned looking directly up at the camera.  I quickly snapped a photograph and cropped it as best I could to formally allude to Sherman’s style.  This photograph, Lennon is a Sherman Film Still #1 (figure 7), is similar to Sherman’s photograph, #6 (figure 8), which depicts Sherman lying on a bed, frozen in her gaze, with her robe untied and unveiling her undergarments.   I found this shot of Lennon compositionally humorous and decided it to be the best of all my Sherman styled photographic attempts to include in this series.


[1]Cindy Sherman, The Complete Untitled Film Stills (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2009): inside cover flap.

[2] Ibid., 8.

[3] Ibid.

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