Lynn Hershman Leeson, “Shower,” Film Still from Teknolust, 2002
While the list of under-recognized female artists is a very, very long one, it seems particularly urgent to cast light on the work of American artist Lynn Hershman Leeson. Hershman Leeson’s oeuvre spans just about every medium–performance, collage, drawing, painting, filmmaking, video, installation, and most importantly, new media, for which she has made invaluable contributions to the field. Active since the 1960s, she and has long been thought as an artist making work before her time. Hershman Leeson’s work has touched on topics such as the politics of biotechnology, the cyborg, surrogate and fractured identity, feminism, government surveillance, and more. The artist even unexpectedly touts an long-running collaboration with actress Tilda Swinton, who is featured in many of her films. For you New Yorkers, there’s an all-day series of events and panels at MoMA PS1 this Sunday 2/22 (where yours truly will also be speaking).
I recently toured “Civic Radar,” Hershman Leeson’s massive retrospective curated by Peter Weibel and Andreas Beitin at ZKM in Karlrsruhe, and happily got to see much of the artist’s work. Check out some of my favorite works below.
ZKM at night
The entrance to “Civic Radar”
Lynn Hershman Leeson, “Digital Venus-Titian,” 1988
“Cyborg, X-Ray Woman,” 1963
An early installation piece by Hershman Leeson at the department store Bonwit Teller
Installation View from “Lorna” 1979–1982
“Home Front” Cycles of Contention," 1993-2011. Multimedia installation
“Roberta Breitmore: Internal Transformation,” 1973-79
Hershman Leeson as Roberta Breitmore
A comic about Roberta Breitmore going to Weight Watchers!
An early photo collage
Tilda Swinton in Hershman Leeson’s 2002 film “Teknolust”
Interactive multimedia installation
“Found Objects: Olympia,” 2005
Found Objects: Wrapped," 2005
“Hand Syringe after Michaelangelo,” 2014
Genetically modified fish that have jellyfish glow genes in a didactic installation about genetic hybrids. These fish were illegal to obtain in Germany for purposes other than research due to the country’s draconian genetic modification laws, and were sourced through a local university.
A bio-printed nose in Hershman Leeson’s “Ethics Room,” an installation devoted to the ethics of the burgeoning biotechnology industry
“DiNA, Artificial Intelligent Agent Installation,” 2004
An interactive archive of Hershman Leeson’s work