New York

Lynn Hershman

Annina Nosel Gallery

Lynn Hershman is a California-based artist whose various activities include environmental projects, photography, film, and narrative printed matter. This group of works clearly represents her interests, which center around cultural and sociological issues. Among the examples on view, the ones dealing with fashion and American heroes are the most provocative. In this group, collaged and painted photographs are manipulated to comment critically and in some cases humorously on America’s collective aspirations, as defined by the mass media. One of Hershman’s favorite topics—judging by the fictional character of Roberta Breitmore, whom she created as an alter-ego for every young woman in the ’70s—is glamour, or the need to imitate and live up to fashion-magazine images of beauty. She focuses attention, for example, on the commandeering attitude that “how to” instructions, accompanying makeup for example, take toward readers.

Hershman also uses as subjects of her work “big stars,” who are, after all, the most glamorous individuals imaginable. Pairing two stars from different eras or the same star during two different eras, Hershman creates triptychs consisting of two separate portraits, such as Bogart/Rowlands, along with a synthetic portrait, which cornbines the two. Other examples are Parton/Wayne, and Reagan 1950/Reagan 1980. There are also documentary photographs related to previously executed installation and film projects.

Dealing with the messages underlying the intensely visual mass media, images which, in essence, rule our lives, Hershman offers a provocative brand of conceptual fare, well suited to the emerging ’80s sensibility.

Ronny H. Cohen