Bus Riders Series (Untitled (Art Student), Untitled (Woman with Knapsack), Untitled (Bus Driver)), negative 1976; print 2005
Cindy Sherman, American, born 1954
Gelatin silver print
Each-Sheet: 9 15/16 × 8 1/16 in. (25.2 × 20.4 cm); Image: 7 7/16 × 5 in. (18.9 × 12.7 cm)
Purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund, 2014.61.1, 2014.61.2, 2014.61.3
Images courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
© Cindy Sherman

With this triptych of staged photographs, Sherman tears down the façade of portraiture as a veristic representation of self.  Part of a series of fifteen black and white photographs Sherman produced shortly after graduating from the State University College at Buffalo, New York between 1972-6, these three images from the Bus Rider series show Sherman performing various roles. Their stances—sitting, riding the bus, holding imaginary rails, all evoke the poses of people she observed on the bus. Male, female, androgynous, white, black, young and old, Sherman adopts various characteristics to masquerade in other identities.

Sherman heightens this awareness of the artifice of the image by drawing our attention to strewn photographs left over from previous shots, stray masking tape on the ground, and the shadows cast against the stark white wall. By subverting the image of the artist at work, Sherman shatters the monolithic conception of selfhood, merging various facets of her own identity with others.