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Lynn Hershman Leeson returns to bitforms gallery in NY
with the first showing of a new series, Found Objects, April 26 – June 5.
Including the premiere of the sex doll installation, “Olympia: Fictive Projections and
the Myth of the Real Woman,” a provocative and updated version
of Edouard Manet’s notorious painting, “Olympia”.
LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON
April 26 – June 5, 2008
February 2008, New York, NY – San Francisco-based artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson returns to
bitforms gallery in New York for a new solo exhibition, Found Objects, running April 26-June 5. With a body
of work that spans over 35 years and ranges from early conceptual and performance pieces to artificial
intelligence robotic works and films, Hershman Leeson is one of the most influential artists working in new
media today. Updating the notion of “readymade” introduced by Marcel Duchamp, Found Objects is a new
series that features assembly-line produced female sex dolls to examine issues of projected fantasies and
the mythology of artificial women. With the installation, “Olympia: Fictive Projections and the Myth of the
Real Woman,” Hershman Leeson restages Edouard Manet’s “Olympia,” projecting images of the painting on
a doll to offer a provocative, updated version of the notorious artwork. Also on display are several
photographs in which the dolls appear to be emotionally involved with predestined narratives.
In 1865, Edouard Manet’s painting, “Olympia,” shocked the art world by depicting a naked woman who, it
turned out, was a prostitute. She lay down, unabashed about what she wanted, looking at the viewer, part
invitation, part dare. Incorporating the scandalous history associated with Manet’s painting, “Olympia: Fictive
Projections and the Myth of the Real Woman” exposes both the cultural practice of representing women as
object (lost or found), and an art historical predilection to create objects of displaced desires. Hershman
carefully selected the doll’s various body parts so that it would closely resemble Manet’s painting – a process
that took 7 months. The installation consists of the sex doll reclining on a longue chaise, exactly as in
“Olympia,” while images of the painting are continuously projected on her body. Revealing a range of
historical re-interpretations, the projected 35mm slides sample Internet images and expose residual
artifacts.The use of a traditional slide projector displaces and updates Manet’s “Olympia,” thereby creating
today’s readymade in a Real Doll version.
The Found Objects series continues the investigation of artificial women Hershman Leeson began with the
“Roberta Breitmore” project in the 70’s. As for her preceding fictitious and virtual personas – which included
dolls such as “CybeRoberta” (1970-1998) and “Tillie” (1995-98) – Olympia’s true reality surfaces through her
artifices. The exhibition will also feature a series of new photographs that explore the elements of fear and
horror, contained in Olympia and brought forth through the photographic medium. These include “No Body,”
“Warning,” and “Olympia Rising,” among others. Also a new doll, “Roberta Ware” was virtually constructed
in Second Life and then exported into physical reality.
In conjunction with bitforms gallery’s solo exhibition, 17 pieces from Hershman’s Roberta Breitmore series
will be on display at PS1 Contemporary Art Center (NY) as part of WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution –
the first comprehensive, historical exhibition to examine the international foundations and legacy of feminist
art (February 17-May 12, 2008). Her exhibition No Body Special is currently on view at the de Young
Museum, San Francisco.
About Lynn Hershman Leeson
Over the last three decades, artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941) has been internationally
acclaimed for her pioneering use of new technologies and her investigations of issues that are now
recognized as key to the working of our society: identity in a time of consumerism, privacy in a era of
surveillance, interfacing of humans and machines, and the relationship between real and virtual worlds.
In 2007 a retrospective at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, Autonomous Agents, featured a
comprehensive range- from the Roberta Breitmore series (1974-78) to videos from the 1980s and
interactive installations that use the Internet and artificial intelligence software. Her influential early ventures
into performance and photography are also featured in the current touring exhibition WACK! Art and the
Feminist Revolution, organized by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Hershman Leeson is
presently at work on a feature-length documentary about the revolutionary feminist art movement.
Secret Agents Private I, The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman Leeson was published by The University of
California Press in 2005 on the occasion of another retrospective at the Henry Gallery in Seattle. Her three
feature films — Strange Culture, Teknolust, Conceiving Ada — have been part of the Sundance Film Festival
and The Berlin International Film Festival, among others, and have won numerous awards.
Work by Lynn Hershman Leeson is featured in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the
William Lehmbruch Museum, the ZKM (Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie), the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, the Walker Art Center and the University Art
Museum, Berkeley, in addition to the celebrated private collections of Donald Hess and Arturo Schwarz,
among many others. Commissions include projects for the Tate Modern, San Francisco Museum of
Modern Art and Charles Schwab.
Recently honored with grants from Creative Capital and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also
the recipient of a Siemens International Media Arts Award, the Flintridge Foundation Award for Lifetime
Achievement in the Visual Arts, Prix Ars Electronica, and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize. In
2004 Stanford University Libraries acquired Hershman Leeson’s working archive.
Hershman Leeson is Chair of the Film Department at the San Francisco Art Institute, Professor Emeritus at
the University of California, Davis and an A.D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University.