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Past event

Cindy Sherman: A Symposium

18 March 2017
Artists, curators, academics, and cultural commentators look at Sherman’s enduring effect on photography and art.

Lectures by Susan Best (Queensland College of Art), Edward Colless (Victorian College of the Arts) and Martin Patrick (Massey University), panels and a programme of artists’ videos. Convened by Massey University and City Gallery Wellington.

See Symposium timetable here.

Keynote Papers:

Sue Best: Coldness and Cruelty: Cindy Sherman's Middle-Aged Women (10.40am)

Cindy Sherman's film stills were widely interpreted as embracing femininity as masquerade and gender as performance. Do her images of middle-aged women, seemingly stuck in signature styles, unpick that reading? The paper considers how to interpret this more recent body of work.

Sue Best is the director of Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research at Queensland College of Arts, Brisbane and the author of Visualizing Feeling: Affect and the Feminine Avant-garde (2011) and Reparative Aesthetics: Witnessing in Contemporary Art Photography (2016).

Martin Patrick: Cindy Sherman and the American Social Landscape: Shifting Selves and Suburban Subtexts (1.35pm)

Martin Patrick discusses Cindy Sherman's work in the context of the 1980s New York artists called 'The Pictures Generation' and certain films of the period including examples by Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch, and Wim Wenders. He describes how her approach has left its traces within the realm of contemporary art.

Martin Patrick writes on contemporary art and visual culture for a variety of national and international publications. His book entitled Across the Art/Life Divide: Performance, Subjectivity, and Social Practices is forthcoming from Intellect Press (UK)/ University of Chicago (US). He is Senior Lecturer at Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University Wellington.

Edward Colless: Creepy Clown Craze (3.30pm)

An unmistakable signature of false anonymity, Cindy Sherman's seductive masquerade is an exemplar of postmodern irony and seems proof for the postulation that identity is performative and provisional. But there is an aura of piety and sanctity about her art and its legacy that deserves to be defaced, and which might then release more menace than mannerism.

Edward Colless teaches Critical and Theoretical Studies at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne and is the editor of A+a Publications.

Also in the programme:

Andrew Paul Wood and Margaret Dawson in conversation (2.30pm)

Critic and writer Andrew Paul Wood and acclaimed New Zealand photographer Margaret Dawson discuss the role of personae, identity play, and the influence of Cindy Sherman and her work.

Panel Discussions:

  • Performing Selves: Reflecting on Sherman's depictions of gender, whiteness and class (11.35am)
    • Chair: Heather Galbraith (Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University Wellington)
    • Panellists: Tāwhanga Nōpera (Creative Practice PhD candidate, University of Waikato), Erin Harrington (School of Humanities and Creative Arts, University of Canterbury), and Sarah Jane Parton ( Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University Wellington)
  • Cruelty and Comedy (4.25pm)
    • Chair: Robert Leonard (City Gallery Wellington)
    • Panellists: Ellie Buttrose (Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art) and Chelsea Nichols (Te Papa Tongarewa)

Artists' Videos

Single channel video works by Denise Bachelor, Jordana Bragg, Laura Duffy, Fantasing, Julia Holden and Sarah Hudson will play throughout the day–selected by Bryce Galloway.


The day will end with performances from The Photogenics and Fantasing.

Cost: $40/$20 (students, community service card holders, seniors and Friends of City Gallery)

In association with Cindy Sherman.  Presented in partnership with Massey University.