Lynn Hershman Leeson. Roberta's Construction Chart #2. 1976
Between 1974 and 1978, Leeson assumed the fictional alter ego Roberta Breitmore, a single woman in the San Francisco Bay area during years of tumultuous social upheaval. Breitmore’s background, education, and childhood memories are a composite of accumulated psychological data. Leeson, as Breitmore, wore makeup, a blond wig, and a certain style of clothing; she maintained a small apartment, had a checking account, credit cards, and a driver’s license, saw a psychiatrist, participated in the Weight Watchers diet program, and placed personal ads looking for dates—men who became unwitting participants in her performance. In the third year of the project, Leeson engaged three other people to perform as Breitmore. The performance concluded in November 1978, commemorated by an exorcism of Breitmore in the Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, in Ferrara, Italy. All that remains is a cache of documentation, including photographs, drawings, surveillance reports, films, letters, and legal and medical papers; a selection is on view here.
Chromogenic color print, printed 2003, 22 15/16 x 29 5/8" (58.3 x 75.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Modern Women’s Fund. © 2013 Lynn Hershman Leeson