Lynn Hershman Leeson | The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series

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This speaker event was recorded live on Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 5:30 pm at the Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI.

As part of the 62nd Ann Arbor Film Festival, this special program will showcase a curated selection of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s short films, followed by a conversation. Filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson will join remotely, and curator Julia Yezbick will interview her from the Michigan Theater’s stage.

Lynn Hershman Leeson’s work cannot be contained by any one medium. Her practice is voracious; consuming both traditional artistic media (installation, painting, and video) as well as interactive LaserDiscs and synthetic DNA. Responding to the social and scientific technologies of the day, Hershman Leeson’s work anticipates the quandaries into which we will be collectively thrown. Her performance piece as Roberta Breitmore (1973) underscored the gendered contours of personhood as defined by the state, laying bare the ways in which we reproduce ourselves as ephemeral simulacra according to these superstructures. She was working with chatbots (Agent Ruby1998 – 2002) downloadable to a Palm Pilot decades before chatGPT had broken into public consciousness, questioning the role that artificial intelligences will play in our lives. This program of her short film and video works highlights her long-held fascination with reality, selfhood, and technological reproduction, prompting us to question whether it is at all possible to disambiguate ourselves from our tech-saturated worlds. Her short films shown here distill the impetus of her decades-long work: a quest for freedom from the many constraints imposed on us by society and the potentialities as well as the pitfalls presented by the ongoing technological augmentation of our lives. 

Julia Yezbick is a filmmaker, artist, programmer, and anthropologist. She received her PhD in Media Anthropology and Critical Media Practice from Harvard University. Her audio and video works have been exhibited at the Berlin International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the New York Library for Performing Arts, Station Arts Space (Beirut), the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Broad Underground Film series (Lansing), the AgX Film Collective, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit. Yezbick’s works of experimental nonfiction are grounded in feminist responses to social issues such as housing and urban transformations as well as commentaries on gendered labor, identity, and movement and the body. She is a 2018 Kresge Artist Fellow for film, the founding Editor of Sensate: a journal for experiments in critical media practice, and co-directs Mothlight Microcinema in Detroit. Yezbick is currently an Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series Spring 2024 Season

This spring, the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series brings respected leaders and innovators from a broad spectrum of creative fields to Ann Arbor’s historic Michigan Theater for weekly in-person events.

Detroit Public Television and PBS Books, in partnership with the Stamps School, will stream each week’s event Fridays at 8pm.

See the full schedule of events livestreamed by PBS Books here.

Some programs may not be available online, depending on artist requests. Interested in receiving notifications before online videos go live? Sign up to receive a reminder before each event begins streaming.

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