Lynn Hershman Leeson works in photography, video, installation, interactive and net-based media. Secret Agents Private I, The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman Leeson a touring retrospective of her work was organized by the Henry Gallery in Seattle in 2005. Her artwork is held in numerous collections, including the Museum of Modern Art New York; The National Gallery of Canada; LA County Museum of Art; Seattle Museum; DG Bank, Frankfurt; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The William Lehmbruch Museum, Duisburg; ZKM Center for Art and Media in Germany, The University Art Museum of Berkeley, and the Hess Collection.
Lynn Hershman and Eleanor Coppola had the idea to transform two rooms in a transient hotel in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Their room installations at the Dante Hotel opened to visitors on Halloween night, 1973. In her room, Hershman placed two life-size wax cast figures (the heads were modeled from her own), one black and one white, under rumpled bed sheets. She surrounded them with their belongings: underwear spilling out of a bureau, cosmetics, hair rollers, cigarette butts, magazines and books, and a murky fish bowl. A radio played the local news, and lipstick-scrawled phrases covered the bureau mirror. Hershman’s twenty-four-hour-a-day, nine-month-long installation ended when a visitor at 3 a.m. mistook the wax figures for corpses and called the police, who came and took all the room elements back to the station. Hershman intended for her installation to be open-ended, with no fixed last day, and was prepared to incorporate changes to the work that might occur over time. The Dante Hotel led directly to Hershman’s extended performance, Roberta Breitmore, in which she assumed a fictional identity over a period of several years.