Roberta Breitmore (1973-1978)

The artist created the fictional character Roberta Breitmore in 1973, as an alter ego that gradually became real by undertaking real life activities such as checking into a hotel, opening a bank account, obtaining credit carts, renting an apartment, or placing ads in newspapers seeking a roommate. Hershman Leeson carefully designed every aspect of Breitmore’s appearance, including her clothing, makeup, gestures, speech mannerisms, and handwriting. Her activities were documented in 144 drawings and surveillance photographs, as well as other artifacts. The performance ended in 1978 at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Italy in an exorcism ritual held in the crypt of Lucrezia Borgia. Breitmore inspired fictional personas in other works by Lynn Hershman, such as CybeRoberta (1995-98), Tillie the Telerobotic Doll (1995-98), Synthia the Stock Stalker (2000-03), Agent Ruby (1991-present), DiNA (2004). In 2007, the artist created a new identity for Roberta as Roberta Ware in a virtual exhibition held in the online environment Second Life.