Special Agent Hershman

'Autonomous Agents,' which opened on September 15th at Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery is the first major retrospective of American artist Lynn Hershman Leeson in the UK. Through new media and the moving image, Hershman Lesson has been creating and experimenting with non-linear narratives since the 1970s. Exploring themes of identity politics, surveillance, and artificial intelligence, her work occupies the spaces between the real and the virtual, the present and the archive--crossing these boundaries with a series of female characters who are highly adaptable to their surroundings (both 'Agent Ruby' and Roberta Breitmore have existed in multiple media over many years). Casting a critical eye on how women use technology and are viewed in relation to it, Hershman Leeson has recently shifted her critical gaze to broader issues of power and technology. Her recent feature film, Strange Culture, about the arrest and ongoing trial of artist Steve Kurtz, will also be a part of 'Autonomous Agents'--giving UK audiences a chance to appreciate the continuing relevance and breadth of this artist's remarkable practice. - Caitlin Jones