Cindy Sherman and Keren Cytter reviewed in esse

by | Sep 18, 2012 | Reviews | 0 comments

In the just-released fall issue of esse magazine, I offer two reviews of exhibitions I saw last spring in New York and Toronto. The first was a blockbuster exhibition of the work of Cindy Sherman at the Museum of Modern Art, which was one of those shows that seemingly everyone I knew had managed to catch while in New York (indeed, there are reviews of this show everywhere). On the one hand, I desperately wanted to like it: some of Sherman’s bodies of work—like the Untitled film stills—remain some of the more nuanced photographs to emerge from the so-called Pictures Generation in New York. And, I still can’t get over the fact that I got to witness a huge retrospective by a living woman artist on the top floor of the MoMA (if you’d told me during my undergrad that this was something that would happen, I would not have believed you).

On the other hand, there were some missteps in the Sherman exhibition, like the huge, Disneyland-inspired photomural of the artist in various guises that heralded the exhibition from on the walls of the gallery space. With a big survey of this kind, with very little brand-new work, it’s hard to see faults in the exhibition as being anything other than the curator’s doing and, while there were some great moments in the show, which I try to point out in the review, the curatorial choices often did Sherman’s work a disservice rather than prompting exciting new comparisons.

The two-venue survey of Keren Cytter’s work, curated by Helena Reckitt for Oakville Galleries, was in many ways a study in opposites to the Sherman show. The Centennial Square venue was particularly tightly curated to show some of Cytter’s recent works (which in itself presents a huge oeuvre—Cytter is prolific) that borrow narratives from online urban myths and scandalous news stories, while the Gairloch Gardens location used the juxtaposition between the natural outdoor setting of the gallery and the urban setting of many of Cytter’s works to nice effect.