Lynn Hershman Leeson: The Novalis Hotel and First Person Plural
Exhibition Review
Jun 17, 2018
KW Institute of Contemporary Art
Sophie Kovel

Entering Roberta Lester’s hotel room, though permitted, even explicitly encouraged, had the effect of trespassing. Her identity was constructed through the artifacts she left behind: cosmetics, clothing, and an accumulation of notes and receipts. Though her life was lived behind closed doors, she was compelled to leave this one open.

With The Novalis Hotel, Hershman Leeson asks: How far do you go? How is identity assembled? What are you willing to leave behind? But the work also reminds us of Roberta Lester’s invocation, “can anyone truly be anonymous now?” The answer might lie in two recent events: a controversial law that gives Bavarian police new power to use forensic DNA profiling and Microsoft’s call to U.S. Congress to limit the use of facial recognition technology. We are vulnerable in the world; we can be read by it…