Home » Ubu Reviews » Gaze Theories: Cindy Sherman’s Doll Clothes (1975)

Gaze Theories: Cindy Sherman’s Doll Clothes (1975)

In Cindy Sherman’s 1975 short, Doll Clothes, she takes a humorous and imaginative approach as she shows what a doll must go through to find clothes.   The scene resembles a child’s play book of a doll and doll clothes.  The doll is on the left side in a plastic pouch, while the clothes are on the right in their own plastic pouches.  The doll wakes up when the book is open and is frantic to find out that she is not wearing any clothes.  She comes out of her pouch, crosses to the other side of the book, and begins to try to find something to wear.    Even with her discomfort, she still takes the time to try to find the right outfit that will make her look the best.

What Sherman is cleverly doing in this short film is illustrating the idea that we are said to encounter when we go to the cinema.  This idea is the idea that we are watching, or “gazing” at something that we shouldn’t be gazing at.  The viewer is put into a male gaze.  The doll in the scene doesn’t know that we are watching her, but the camera fixates on her.  The doll hasn’t given her consent to the viewer, making the audience voyeurs as she tries to find some clothes.  It gets even worse at the end as a spectator in the room undresses her again after she had reached her goal.  The culprit again puts her back in her plastic pouch as the viewer remains watching.

The piece has a bit of comedy as the doll tries to accomplish her goal.  The doll not being real gives the piece a speck of unreality with is much needed.  The viewer can’t relate because the doll is not a three dimensional being.  This adds to the humor and lets the piece become a form of entertainment.

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