An Unintended Triptych

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This photo is the first of three that I selected from Cindy Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills.” The character she created is standing alone on a rural road, and she appears small and vulnerable compared to the surrounding landscape. She is about to set out on a journey, as indicated by the suitcase, and I imagine she is going to hitchhike to wherever she is going. I think it is a voyage of discovery- she seems young and curious about the world, as she looks out in the distance rather than looking back at the camera.

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This next photo shows a different character in a city, looking lost and scared. Although it is a different character, both she and the first seem connected. This is where the girl in the first photograph could end up, and once she is in the city she doesn’t know where to go next. She looks insignificant next to the towering buildings and looks utterly alone and afraid.

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Finally, this photo also shows a woman in the city. However, the camera is at even more of a low angle, and this gives the character a position of power. Instead of appearing apprehensive and unsure of herself, this woman oozes confidence. Again, even though this is a different character than both the first and second, she completes the story in a sense. She has found her place in the world- she is what the first two characters aspire to become.

These three photos are compelling to me because they remind me of coming to college out of state. Knowing practically no one, it was nerve-wracking to come to the University of Michigan. As  one student out of nearly 30,000 undergrads, I felt overwhelmed and unsure of my place. The third photo is what we are all trying to become, and that is sure of our place in the university and the world as a whole. This unintended triptych is relatable to all college students and to anyone starting over.

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