Photography is a beautifully unreliable guide to the representation of the self, because its secrets come disguised as explanations. American photographer Cindy Sherman has harnessed the power of this paradox, in her Untitled Film Stills (1977-80) series. While the artist uses the self as subject, her curiosity in the reproduction of her image represents a desire to multiply identities and to invert traditional gender roles. The artist is essentially an impersonator, inserting her disguised self into various staged settings, as exemplified in Untitled #35
The self-portrait for Sherman is thus comprehensively performed and this is often misconstrued, leading many to question its self-portrait nature. However all representations of the self, photographic and otherwise are performed, and this is something that is often overlooked.