Why Lynn Hershman Leeson Is Always Ahead of Her Time
Jun 23, 2021
Eileen Myles

In a 1978 film called Lynn Turning into Roberta, the artist Lynn Hershman Leeson applies makeup to her face, sets a wig on her head, and gradually eases into the role of her fictitious persona and multiyear performance piece Roberta Breitmore (1972–79). Roberta rode buses around San Francisco, went to a psychiatrist, and had her own credit card. “Several times I left my house as Roberta, forgot something, and had to return in Roberta costume and makeup,” Hershman Leeson recalled of the years she spent enacting her alternate self, “which was a continual annoyance to my then eleven-year-old daughter.” To say that Hershman Leeson was ahead of her time would be an understatement. A pioneer in performance, video, and multimedia art who throughout her life has probed the connections between technology and society, she recently converted her collected works into synthetic DNA.