Lynn Hershman Leeson has spent six decades at the forefront of emerging artistic practices, exploring the internet, biotechnologies and Artificial Intelligence years before any of her contemporaries. Here, she reflects on her formidable career.
Among the rare early works by Lynn Hershman Leeson – now showing as part of group exhibition Code of Arms at London’s Gazelli Art House – is a small collage titled Looking Forward, from 1974. It shows a face in profile superimposed onto a backdrop of vertical lines, with the phrase “A Head Looking Forward” printed across the top half. As a metaphor for Hershman Leeson’s life and career, it couldn’t be more apt: with her pioneering, six-decade practise combining performance, film and biotechnologies, the artist has always been ahead of the times. A casual list of the now 80-year-old’s startlingly prescient works would have to include her disarmingly confessional videotapes, The Electronic Diaries; her “e-dream portal” AI chatbot, Agent Ruby; and of course, her years-long performance in the 1970s as alter ego Roberta Breitmore.