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"Roberta was at once artificial and real. Roberta's first live action was to place an ad in a local newspaper for a roommate. People who answered the ad became participants in her adventure. As she became part of their reality, they became part of her fiction."

Lynn Hershman aka, Roberta  

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Click to play video Excerpt from Roberta


Roberta <1970>

ROBERTA BREITMORE; a private performance of a simulated persona. In an era of alternatives, she became an objectified non bodied reflective, alternative personality.

Roberta had a drivers license, checking accounts and more credit than I did (still do). Roberta was an interactive vehicle with which to analyze culture. Her "profile" was animated through both cosmetics applied to her face as if it were a canvas, and her experiences in the real world. She reflected the values of her society and participated in trends such as EST and Weight Watchers. She saw a psychiatrist, had her own language, speech pattern, handwriting, apartment,clothing, gestures and moods. Most significantly, she witnessed reflected and documented the resonant nuances of that culture's alienation.

Roberta's manipulated reality became a model for a private system of interactive performances. Instead of being kept on a disc or hardware, her records were stored as photographs and texts that could be viewed without predetermined sequences. This allowed viewers to become voyeurs into Roberta's history. Their interpretations shifted, depending on the perspective and order of the sequences they accessed.

In her fifth year of life, Roberta's adventures became models of victimization. To counter this phenomenon, multiples were created. Sadly, even the four different characters who assumed her identity continued to have negative experiences. Perhaps these multiples were like computer viruses that filled the RAM space of real life, taking with them the genetic codes of Roberta's negative patterns.

Many people assumed I was Roberta. Although I denied it at the time and insisted that she was "her own woman" with defined needs, ambitions and instincts. In retrospect, I feel we were linked. Roberta represented part of me as surely as we all have within us an underside, a dark, shadowy cadaver that we try with pathetic illusion to camouflage. Roberta's traumas became my own haunting memories. This work ended with a ritual exorcism in 1979, made from air, fire mirrors and smoke.