Sherman is a master of disguise in one way yet, once we are familiar with her work, her photographs are always distinctly hers for she is always 'hidden' within them. Using masks, prosthetics, elaborate costumes, make-up and other accoutrements, she constructs characters that are often, on first viewing, grotesque, like something out of freak show or macabre horror movie. Yet, it is always Cindy Sherman in a series of self-portraits as other personae, but transformed for the portrait into someone who makes us question the type she is representing in an extreme or distorted manner. The effect is not dissimilar to the impact made by a Gerald Scarfe cartoon.
It is as if she knows we all put on masks for different occasions but stretches that concept to produce images that are almost always unsettling, and sometimes tinged with the surreal. However, more often than one might suppose, they can also be suffused with sadness, alienation or pathos. To me it is as if she is saying that no matter how much we transform ourselves we always run the risk of being outsiders, or being rejected and isolated and, as we grow into that sense of isolation our perceived difference becomes magnified until it is distorted so that, when we look in the mirror, we see someone barely recognisable as ourselves.