Lynn Hershman Leeson, ‘Self-Portrait as Another Person’, 1966-1968, bitforms gallery

A predecessor of Lynn Hershman Leeson's influential “Roberta Breitmore” series, “Self Portrait as Another Person” features a wax cast of the artist's face that was made in 1966. Characteristic of similar pieces created by the artist in this period, the face is framed by a wig with tousled hair. Calling up the ancient ritual of masking, make-up is applied to the face.

This work investigates identity construction in the modern era - specifically during the Civil Rights Movement. Using a black pigmented wax, Hershman's portrait is reconstructed with a dark skin tone, underscoring racial ambiguity. A very early example of sculpture that integrates pre-recorded sound, a tape recorder with the artist's voice was added to the installation in 1968. At that time it was activated by a foot sensor as visitors approached the sculpture. In it's present configuration, the tape recorder originally used is archived within the vitrine at the height of the figure's chest. An object that is completed by the interaction of participants, this portrait ask questions and probes the viewer: “What did you say? Who are you? How do you spell your name? What was your first sexual encounter? I'd like to know you better. Are you in love with anybody? Can you trust me?”

About Lynn Hershman Leeson

An early pioneer of new media artworks, Lynn Hershman Leeson explores the moral and ethical quandaries raised in a culture obsessed with technology and artifice. Leeson is perhaps best known for her creation in the 1970s of a fictitious alter ego named Roberta Breitmore, whom she brought to life through performances and photographs and exposed to such voguish experiences as therapy and Weight Watchers. Revisiting this theme decades later, Leeson created an installation re-imagining Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1863) by posing a custom-made RealDoll to look like the prostitute in the iconic portrait. The installation, entitled Olympia: Fictive Projections and the Myth of the Real Woman (2007-2008), features images of Manet’s painting projected onto the sex doll’s body.

American, b. 1941, Cleveland, Ohio, based in San Francisco, California