Alum Lynn Hershman Leeson: 50 Years of Tricks, Tech-art Innovations

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

HYPERALLERGIC -- Lynn Hershman Leeson revels in the role of artist as innovator and trickster, though it’s not always clear whom she is tricking. The five decades of her creative practice, represented in Lynn Hershman Leeson: Civic Radar at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco, reveal an artist unafraid to pull stunts that surprise and unsettle, whether it’s by introducing cutting-edge technologies to the art world, or living out performances that feel like a practical joke.

In an early project, Hershman Leeson invented art critic pseudonyms and published reviews under their names that included positive references to her own work. “The Art Criticism of Gay Abandon, Herbert Goode and Prudence Juris” (1968–1973) became her Master’s thesis at San Francisco State University — and press to show gallerists. Where Hershman Leeson’s work falls on the spectrum between brilliant conceptual art and ethically questionable, because self-serving, is part of the charm.