Roberta Breitmore (1971-1978), virtual identity ante-litteram

Roberta Breitmore, Lynn Hershman, roberta_breitmore.jpg

Before the advent of online communication, creating a fake trustworthy identity has been more complex than just improvising during a chat using a handful of online tools. Amongst the ancestors of successful invented identities there’s the historical project Roberta Breitmore (1971-1978), developed as a nine years performance by Lynn Hershman. With ‘Roberta’ she pioneered many of the personality games twenty years later experienced in incorporeal communication platforms, such as multiple personalities, parallel relationships, creating new relationships in different media, in the end getting back stimulating human responses with different strategies. Roberta had her own credit card, published advertising for a roommate and had psychiatrist sessions. Even if it was derived from a significant part of the hidden Lynn’s own personality, she was meant to be public, but intimate at the same time, so irresistible. And her structured parts (only minimally reflecting the artist’s well known ones) formed a coherent, intricated and nonetheless fascinating persona. Always maintaining identifiable aesthetic and behavioral traits, as a living character, Roberta’s endangered personality, so ethereal and compromised, seem to be the ‘mother’ of contemporary incursions in identity alterations.