Lynn Hershman Leeson – Civic Radar


Hatje Cantz, ISBN: 978-3775741026, English, 352 pages, 2016, Germany

Thank goodness we still have major personal exhibitions that produce extensive monographs of relevant artists, without having to rely on publishers’ taste and economics alone. This thick luxurious ZKM catalogue of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s work, produced after her retrospective exhibition, is the most complete to date on the artist, achieving a long-overdue public acknowledgement of her work. The provocative media artist has produced artworks that are often more consistent and relevant than those by short-lived radical groups, but without any need to scream. Her way of dealing with identity, surveillance and biological issues is unique, employing a true feminist attitude in both ironic and rigorous works. Among these are the groundbreaking impersonation of the fictional Roberta Breitmore, or the series of science fiction movies with Tilda Swinton (also author of one of the included texts). Hershman Lesson has embraced electronic and digital techniques, often using their own technical structure as an integral part of the work, sometimes even foreseeing the destabilising aspects of digital and network dimensions. There is a prescient nature underlying the included texts, especially in her own writings (1984-2014), and in the interview she conducted with Nam June Paik. This book is more than a monograph; it’s a due tribute to a brilliant visionary mind who found her way in the art world, something that the post-Internet generation of artists should look to and learn from.