Lynn Hershman Leeson: No Body Special
A PROJECT OF LIFEn AT THE DE YOUNG MUSEUM IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, THE BERKELEY ART MUSEUM/PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE, THE HESS COLLECTION, NEW LANGTON ARTS, AND THE SAN JOSE MUSEUM OF ART
Exhibition dates: February 2–June 1, 2008
San Francisco-based artist Lynn Hershman Leeson is a pioneer in new media, and her Internet-based works have won her much acclaim. For No Body Special, part of the Collection Connections program, Hershman Leeson uses a Jean Patou pantsuit from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s extensive costume collection as the vehicle to investigate the nexus of fashion, art, and display. Images of the pantsuit are featured in performances around the city, and the exhibition will exist in the galleries and on the Internet, where it will inhabit a “second life.”
By re-imagining the mannequins in the de Young Museum’s textile gallery with the heads, brains, and personalities of diverse people, Hershman Leeson expresses female identity as a performance of conventional roles, not as an essential condition. Through reproductions of the Patou pantsuit, which are worn by a variety of models, including one of the art world’s notorious Guerrilla Girls, the artist intervenes in the social construction of clothing design, marketing, and consumption. Public sightings of these stylish personas create a celebrity-like atmosphere that replicates the staged effects that go hand-in-hand with fashion promotion. These site-specific performances are documented in a series of manipulated fashion photographs and a DVD.
Related Education and Programming
Saturday, April 12
10 am–noon & 1:30—3 pm
Children’s Workshops: Doing and Viewing Art and Big Kids/Little Kids
Lynn Hershman Leeson: No Body Special is a project of Lifen (Life to the power of n), a year-long exhibition series on the work of Lynn Hershman Leeson initiated by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and jointly organized by the de Young Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, the Hess Collection, New Langton Arts, SFMOMA, and the 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge at the San Jose Museum of Art.
Collection Connections is a series that presents new works that aim to reinterpret traditional objects from the de Young’s permanent collections. The contemporary artists working in this space create installations that transform the conventional experience of museum visitors. For each project, artist and curator draw inspiration from the permanent collection, offering nontraditional connections that provide visual and educational opportunities to explain, interpret, and recontextualize the art objects on display throughout the museum. Through these projects, visitors are given a window into the ways that artists and cultural institutions construct and disseminate knowledge about historical understanding and current attitudes.
Collection Connections is generously funded by the Annenberg Foundation. The series is part of FAMSF’s Cultural Encounters initiative designed to attract new and diverse audiences to the Museum. Daniell Cornell, Curator of American Art and Director of Contemporary Art Projects, is the curator of Collection Connections.