Lise Sarfati at Yossi Milo Gallery

“On Hollywood” at Yossi Milo, features photographs about what the gallery press release describes as “women who were lured by their dreams of success in Hollywood, but who now struggle against harsher realities” The text mentions Hollywood’s “great anti-heroines of films” as an inspiration for the imagery.

In viewing the show, I immediately was reminded of Cindy Sherman and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The work of these two artists can be seen as the first “mining” of Hollywood depictions of the female. In Sherman’s film stills she effectively made what appeared to be promotional still images for ‘old’ movies using herself as the model to portray “The sixty-nine solitary heroines (who) map a particular constellation of fictional femininity that took hold in postwar America,” (From the Museum of Modern Art website). Philip-Lorca diCorcia and his male prostitutes echoed similar imagery, with the roles played out with irony by real male prostitutes whom were paid to pose. Both artists “staged” their photographs and the results were considered to be “fictions.”and in the argot of post modernism, these images were seen as, among other issues, questioning photographic reality.

In Safarti’s work, it appears as if the artist was looking to remake the imagery that inspired Sherman and diCorcia’s work and remake their work at the same time. So too, do the leggy women posing with their far off gazes, hardened stares, and cigarettes all evocatively posed “on street corners, bits of sidewalks, parking lots and corner stores, (and) banal locations.” One image in particular Vinny-Ann, Hollywood & Highland, 2010 assumes a remarkably similar composition to Cindy Sherman’s photo.

Crisse, 6722 Sunset Blvd, 2010 and Malaïka #13, 2010 both look very much like diCorcia’s photographs. Sarfati’s photographs present strong likenesses, replete with drama and scenic atmosphere.

All the ingredients are there for what look to be great photographs, yet they all look too familiar. Having rebaked Hollywood clichés without the leavening added by such artists as diCorcia or Sherman, these images do not rise to the level of the work they mimic. Sarfati’s images allow the photographer, subject and viewer alike, to partake yet again in the stylized representations of the louche life.

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  1. Pingback: Sherman photographs | Sugarmunkee

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