Lynn Hershman Leeson

Moving-Image Innovator

Through Jun 20

MoMA

The Complete Electronic Diaries. 1986–2019. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

One of the world’s most prolific media artists, over five decades Lynn Hershman Leeson has produced an innovative body of work that probes and plays with the complex relationship between humans, technology, and social structures. Her videos navigate the fluid space between perception and truth, constantly exposing our collective and individual biases.

When Hershman Leeson chose a video-based practice in the 1970s (as she acts out in her 1991 work Seeing Is Believing), she began an ongoing project of capturing the future. The immediacy and urgency of video allowed her to assume an artist-as-activist stance, portraying the lives of women who were barely visible in the moving-image art scene of the time. She focused her lens on the nonconformists, the sexually liberated, and often, as in The Electronic Diaries (1984–2019), on herself.

Her video investigations have led to both technological innovations and groundbreaking collaborations—most notably with Tilda Swinton, who appears in such feature-length works as Conceiving Ada (1997), Teknolust (2002), and Strange Culture (2011). Blending documentary traditions and techniques with invented narratives and digital effects, Hershman Leeson creates new visual vocabularies that confront audiences with fresh paradigms and possibilities. In her created worlds digital code is the DNA of the future and anatomy is ephemeral, bodies are liberated from prescribed meanings, and artificial intelligence can be intelligent art.

This retrospective features Hershman Leeson’s complete, four-part “Cyborg Series,” including Cyborgian Rhapsody – Immortality (2023), which was written, performed, and designed by an artificial intelligence chatbot. A special conversation on June 8 brings together Lynn Hershman Leeson, Eugenia Kuyda, founder of the Replika AI app, and the chatbot named Echo.

Organized by Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, and Francisco Valente, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].