Thursday, April 23, 2009

Art + Film: Oh, to be a 'Guest of Cindy Sherman'

So, you're OK that we're not allowed to sit at the same lunch table?

Once there was an artist, a very famous and influential artist and one day she met a man. This man was a rebel of sorts, an artist turned cable access art show host. It was a funny cable access art show that dared to delve into the pristine post-80's New York art scene and the man was not afraid to ask obvious questions about contemporary art. You know, those questions that you don't dare speak out loud whilst admiring a pile of trash dappled with fake blood or maybe a video where a girl just stands in a field for 12min until the whole things starts up again. But this man's moderate notoriety was nothing compared to hers and he found life as a "+1" both baffling and frustrating as he accompanied her to luxury hotels, galas, tributes and A-List dinners. He was in her shadow not by her side. Oh, did I mention that for most of the time they were dating he was making a movie about it?

Guest of Cindy Sherman opened last month in extremely limited release (New York and Sante Fe) after premiering at Tribeca this time last year. While my partner in art/crime and I regularly get to New York, we rarely, if ever have time to catch a flick after an exhausting Saturday in Chelsea. As I await the film's release here in Philly, I'm temporarily satisfied by reading the positive reviews of this documentary that has been denounced by Ms. Sherman, has excommunicated Paul H-O (the ex and co-director) from the blue chip art world and has brought up issues of feminism and identity seemingly comparable to Sherman's prolific body of untitled portraits. Well, that might be a stretch, but it certainly looks more interesting to me that Sherman's recent works - but that is just the bitter former photog in me.

I'm clearly already on the side of this Chad Lowe of the art world. Even though Paul H-O was a successful working artist for many years before he started his cable show, accomplishments of this level are peanuts compared to a true art star, a chosen one. Never bothering with titles and rarely quoted, Sherman is that which young artist secretly dream of when suffering through pretentious theory classes or being forced to critique the sometimes pitiful work of their peers - stardom..making it...attaining respect along with buzz-inflated monetary compensation all the while establishing an unshakable aura of cool to keep the unbelievers at bay. See, it can happen, just look at Cindy, they think.

The main draw of Guest of Cindy Sherman is not just for those holding a morbid fascination with an art scene that none of us could ever break into, but this male ego break that Paul experiences. He becomes the "wife" as the relationship progresses. 2nd banana syndrome wouldn't exactly make me have an existential crisis, it would be jarring and a bit depressing, but I don't think it's out there to say that women are way more prepared for such an occurrence. Heck, I'd pay $10 to see a dude go through it who is secure enough to let us watch all while hobnobbing with the cultural elite! What looks to be a delicious film on few levels, keep an eye out for Guest of Cindy Sherman at an overpriced indie-plex near you.

Guest of Cindy Sherman
88 min
Dir.: Paul Hasegawa-Overacker & Tom Donahue
With: Cindy Sherman, John Waters and lots of other art folk, oh and Molly Ringwald & Danny DeVito (really)