Last week, actor/artist/writer/instagrammer/persona James Franco opened his latest project New Film Stills to a mob of Franco-philes queuing all the way down West 25th Street. 'Why has Mr. Franco filled the prestigious Pace Gallery with contemplative selfies dressed in drag?' you might be asking. Standard Culture explains:
Poems for Cindy
First of all, they're not selfies. Technically, they're not even self portraits. They are 32 re-enactments of Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills (1980). However, the project is more poetry than it is photography with a poem written in response to all sixty-five of Cindy's original stills.
The Male Gaze
Sherman's Untitled Film Stills have featured prominently in the conversation of the male gaze. Sherman once said, "I wanted a man opening up the magazine to suddenly look at it with an expectation of something lascivious and then feel like the violator that they would be. Looking at this woman who is perhaps a victim ... Obviously I'm trying to make someone feel bad for having a certain expectation."
Cindy Sherman Untitled Film Still #50 (1980)
Male Gaze on Steroids
James' poem on the above film still. Focus on the last stanza:
On the modernist couch in all black
A hat on her head and a drink in her hand
Three ashtrays on the low coffee table
And an African statue in the back
Reminiscent of the racist depictions
In Antonioni when Monica Vitti dances
In blackface with a spear; and the same thing
In Fellini in the club with Mastroianni.
But here the scene is more like The Big Sheep
-yeah, this bitch is in a 1940s scene,
She's about to get popped.
There's a scary, hairy guy
Off screen: he's gonna stick it to her,
And leave her body hanging half off the couch
Feeding blood into the white carpet
For Philip Marlow to find.
Franco Stands in for Cindy
New Film Still #50 (2013)
Compare and Contrast
Cindy aimed to mask her identity in these images. Will we ever really know the enigmatic film star on the left?
And Here Come the Fans
The Opening is an #Artselfie Extravaganza!
Even gallerist Marc Glimcher and Jane Suitor couldn't resist. “It will honestly be the best selfie of my night,” said someone else looking for James Franco as reported by Buzzfeed's "27 Things I Overheard at James Franco's Pace Opening".
The Show Must Go On
James pops uptown to perform his Broadway play, "Of Mice and Men"
Nightcap at Café Standard
And that's how it ended, like so many things, drinking at The Standard. Until next time!
Not Franco-full? More after party pics in our gallery. Thanks for sharing your photos Pace!