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Lynn Hershman Leeson: Moving-Image Innovator

June 07, 2024 – June 20, 2024

The Museum of Modern Art

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.

 

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black, with major contributions from the Triad Foundation, Inc., The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Young Patrons Council of The Museum of Modern Art, and by Karen and Gary Winnick.

Images

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!Women Art Revolution. 2010. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Zeitgeist Films.

Cyborgian Rhapsody: Immortality. 2023. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Logic Paralyzes the Heart. 2002. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson

Seduction of a Cyborg. 1994. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Shadowstalker. 2018. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Conceiving Ada. 1997. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Strand Releasing.

Teknolust. 2002. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Strand Releasing

Strange Culture. 2007. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Strand Releasing.

Tania Libre. 2017. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Vertighost. 2017. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson

Longshot. 1989. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

No Words. 2023. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Seeing is Believing. 1990. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

The Complete Electronic Diaries. 1986-2019. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson

Test Patterns. 1979. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Commercials for Forming a Sculpture Drama in Manhattan. 1974. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Lynn Turning Herself Into Roberta. 1975. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

25 Windows: A Portrait of Bonwit Teller. 1976. USA. Directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Desire, Inc. 1990. USA. Written and directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. Courtesy Lynn Hershman Leeson.