Exhibitions throughout Bay Area Celebrate Lynn Hershman Leeson

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is pleased to announce Lifeⁿ (Life to the power of n)—or, life to the power of infinitya series of exhibitions highlighting the work of Lynn Hershman Leeson that will taking place throughout the Bay Area in 2008. Internationally recognized as one of the most influential among San Francisco–based media artists, Hershman Leeson has shaped the history of contemporary art in the Bay Area since the early 1970s. This collaborative survey of the artist’s past and current projects is a joint effort among local institutions and art collections; it will feature six presentations over the course of the year (see calendar below), individually organized by each participating venue but jointly promoted under the title of Life.

Life (Life to the power of n) was initiated by SFMOMA and coordinated by Rudolf Frieling, the museum’s curator of media arts. The project is jointly organized by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the de Young Museum, The Hess Collection, New Langton Arts, SFMOMA, and 01SJ A Global Festival of Art on the Edge at the San Jose Museum of Art.

For more than three decades Hershman Leeson has worked in a variety of media, including performance, photography, video, installation, artificial intelligence and the internet, and feature film. Re-examining the artist’s pioneering contributions to contemporary art, Liferevisits early site-specific installations and groundbreaking experiments in alternative art spaces. It also features new commissions. Common denominators among the individual presentations are the artist’s reconfiguration of historic and archival material, as well as her incorporation of user participation through new online platforms such as Second Life. Lifeⁿ proposes that there is not just one “real life” and one “virtual life,” but potentially endless manifestations of life and art that combine and mutate into hybrid forms of exhibition display, performance, online communities, interactive interfaces, user-generated content, and public screenings.

As they become available, exhibition materials from each project in Lifeⁿ are digitally relocated to a site in Second Life (URL to be announced), which will eventually become the content and record for a “meta-archive,” facilitating deeper analysis, active investigation, and social exploration of the work. Updates on the project and Second Life access information will be posted at www.life-n.net. More information about Hershman Leeson can be found at the artist’s website: www.lynnhershman.com.

In conjunction with Life, a new monograph on the work of Hershman Leeson will be co-published by Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, and bitforms gallery, New York, in partnership with The Hess Collection (release date and details to be announced).

CALENDAR OF EVENTS (in chronological order)

Lynn Hershman Leeson: No Body Special

de Young Museum

February 2–June 1, 2008

This exhibition uses a pantsuit by the house of Jean Patou (ca. 1965), drawn from the de Young’s extensive costume collection, to investigate the nexus of fashion, art, and display. Through reproductions of the museum’s pantsuit, worn by a variety of models (including one of the art world’s notorious Guerrilla Girls), the artist intervenes in the social construction of clothing design, marketing, and consumption.

For more information, visit deyoungmuseum.org.

Global Mind Radar/Reader (An Emotional Barometer)

A project included in the biennial exhibition 01SJ A Global Festival of Art of the Edge

San Jose Museum of Art

May 10–September 7, 2008

Like a dynamic teleprompter for what is on the global mind, Hershman Leeson’s new work Global Mind Radar/Reader (An Emotional Barometer), 2008, “reads” current blog postings about emotionally charged topics, such as climate change, consumerism, and politics. As the blogs scroll across a series of screens, they animate a virtual character with glee, indifference, or sadness, serving as an emotional barometer of what people are thinking. The work is curated by Steve Dietz for the second international biennial 01SJ A Global Festival of Art on the Edge, a festival of new media art hosted at various cultural venues throughout the city of San Jose.

For more information, visit 01sj.org.

CyberActive: The Work of Lynn Hershman Leeson

The Hess Collection

May 16–November 28, 2008

Beginning with Hershman Leeson’s 1970s performance piece Roberta Breitmore, this presentation offers a retrospective survey of interactivity and identity constructs in the artist’s work. The exhibition includes photography, video, ephemera, and major examples of her participation-based multimedia “sculptures.”

For more information, visit hesscollection.com/web/art.html.

Lynn Hershman Leeson—Virtually Everything, Virtually: An Almost Complete Retrospective of the Single-Channel Works 1977–1994

UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

June 1, 2008 / noon–8 p.m.

The Pacific Film Archive presents an immersive screening—almost seven hours of video work by Hershman Leesson—that ranges from her Bonwit Teller windows of 1977 to the Recovered Diaries of 1994. The program includes several real-time Q&A sessions with the artist, via her virtual representation in Second Life, throughout the day.

For more information, visit bampfa.berkeley.edu.

The Floating Museum Archive

New Langton Arts

September 4–October 25, 2008

This exhibition presents a selection of documents and ephemera from Lynn Hershman Leeson’s The Floating Museum, a project produced by the artist between 1974 and 1978 as a model for creating public, site-specific work in untraditional locations. For this work, Hershman Leeson curated projects from 300 Bay Area, national, and international artists that appeared in places as diverse as San Quentin State Prison and Angel Island and included works by Michael Asher, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Suzanne Lacy, and Gordon Matta-Clark.

For more information, visit newlangtonarts.org.

Life² (Life squared)

A project included in the exhibition The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

November 8, 2008–February 8, 2009

In this presentation Hershman Leeson reconfigures her historic work The Dante Hotel (1973–74), recognized as one of the first site-specific public art installations in San Francisco. Originally presented in a real hotel room, staged with remnants of fictional occupants, the artist recasts ephemera from this early piece in the virtual world of Second Life. The work includes live images and online access to the project in the galleries alongside artifacts, prints, and documents from the original installation. Life² appears as part of SFMOMA’s major fall 2008 exhibition The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now, a thematic overview of participation-based art highlighting key historical and contemporary works by more than 40 artists, including Vito Acconci, John Cage, Yoko Ono, and Erwin Wurm.

For more information, visit sfmoma.org.

Life² is supported by the Stanford Humanities Lab and the Daniel Langlois Foundation.


Lifeⁿ (Life to the power of n) is a yearlong exhibition series on Lynn Hershman Leeson’s work initiated by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and jointly organized by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the de Young Museum, The Hess Collection, New Langton Arts, SFMOMA, and 01SJ A Global Festival of Art on the Edge at the San Jose Museum of Art.