Cindy Sherman’s Student Films

Three experimental short films by one of the world’s most renowned visual artists.

Cindy Sherman’s breakthrough came with the 1977 – 1980 series of photographed collectively known as Untitled Film Stills, in which she recreated the feel of classic cinema – from American noir and crime movies to Italian neo-realism. These were photographs that referenced our shared understanding of the language of cinema and classic moments from movies that have become a part of the public consciousness – even with people who haven’t actually seen the films in question. But Sherman had already played with ideas of cinematic cliche and cultural tropes before this. During her time at Buffalo State College, she made three short films that toyed with both her fascination for ‘dolling up’ – that is, creating characters for herself and photographing self-portraits in these roles, something that has continued throughout her career.

Doll Clothes (1975), Bird (1976) and Unhappy Hooker (1976) are all interesting and brief excursions into film experimentation and perhaps set the scene for her 1997 feature film Office Killer, a fascinatingly awful horror comedy that is required viewing for fans of the bizarre.

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