Film Still #58, 2013
Gelatin silver print
26 x 40 inches Known for his multifaceted career, James Franco (b. 1978) is a prominent American actor as well as a recognized director, producer, author and conceptual artist. Born and raised in Palo Alto, California, Franco has acquired a multitude of degrees from UCLA, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Brooklyn College, Warren Wilson and the Rhode Island School of Design in literature, creative writing, film making, poetry, English and fine arts. His insatiable creative drive has led him to continuously challenge and blur preconceived notions of the media within which he works. His conceptual art endeavors are often the product of his experience and knowledge of film and its history. Franco’s artworks range from photography, to multimedia installations and large-scale sculptures.
Part of Franco’s photographic series “New Film Stills,” Film Still #58 is one of 32 overt reenactments of Cindy Sherman’s 1977–1980 landmark body of work “Untitled Film Stills,” in which Sherman appropriated and staged 69 female stereotypes that repeatedly appeared in postwar American films. As with the originals, all of Franco’s adaptations are solitary self-portraits in which he is fictionally dressed up, posed and situated. Shot from a low, voyeuristic angle, Film Still #58 captures Franco in a seemingly transient stance, dressed as a sophisticated secretary, observingly roaming the streets of New York City. Well aware of the critical tone with which Sherman’s Stills were made, Franco’s decision to blatantly incorporate his facial hair is perhaps meant to exacerbate the falsity of the roles being played, while further complicating and challenging the gender roles promulgated in today’s society. In coincidence with this project Franco wrote 65 poems in reaction to Sherman’s original Stills created 30 years prior.