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In this discussion, B. Ruby Rich and Peggy Phelan join moderator Elizabeth Thomas to speak about their contributions to the catalog CIVIC RADAR, the first comprehensive publication summarizing Hershman Leeson's long and varied career.

Civic Radar covers the expansive range of works created by the Bay Area-based artist throughout five decades of practice, from early enactments of social performance and experiments with technology to large-scale installations and activist film. As long-time colleagues, Phelan and Rich will consider aspects of Hershman’s pioneering work in new technologies, as it ranges over different formats and disciplines to engage with issues of power, identity, and representation. Exploring the reaches of the artist’s difficult to categorize work, the discussion will explore how Leeson has worked to interrogate media in particular–its capitalistic underpinnings, gender dynamics, and role in social control.

B. Ruby Rich is professor of Film, Digital Media, and Social Documentation at UC Santa Cruz; Peggy Phelan is Ann O’Day Maples Chair in the Arts Professor of Theater & Performance Studies and English. Both Rich and Phelan have been working in the field of media and performance studies for decades, producing influential scholarship and defining critical aspects of their respective fields, including Rich’s Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement (1988) and Phelan’s Unmarked: the politics of performance (1993). Elizabeth Thomas is an independent curator, currently producing Michael Rakowitz’s Radio Silence, a performance and radio program about Iraq and its displacements.

Following the discussion, there will be an opportunity to purchase copies of Civic Radar, and have them signed by Lynn Hershman Leeson.

Presented in conjunction with Lynn Hershman Leeson: Civic Radar.


Regular Admission: $10

Student, Senior, Teacher: $9
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B Ruby Rich is Professor, Film + Digital Media Department, and Director, Social Documentation MA Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, teaching documentary and film studies. In 1992-2004, she was Professor (Adjunct) in the Film Program at the University of California, Berkeley; earlier, she taught classes at the New School for Social Research and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Rich is the author of New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut (Duke, 2013) and Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories of the Feminist Film Movement (Duke, 1998). She serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for the British Film Institute Film Classics series (Palgrave/Macmillan) and the Advisory Board for the St. Andrews Film Studies book series. She is a Contributing Editor for Film Quarterly, a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Camera Obscura, and a past member of the editorial board of Cinema Journal, where she edited a special section “On Documentary.” She is also on the Editorial Board for the new Journal of Diverse Sexualities from Syracuse University Press. She remains on the masthead of eJumpCut.

Rich was honored in 2012 with the first Frameline Award to be awarded to a critic since Vito Russo received the inaugural award in 1986. The Society for Cinema and Media Studies awarded her its highest honor, the Distinguished Career Achievement Award for lifetime contributions to the field, in 2006. In 2007, she was honored by Yale University with its James Brudner Award for outstanding lesbian and gay scholarship. Also in 2007, she received a residency and fellowship from the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. She has been a Rockefeller Fellow in the Humanities at NYU and held a Critic’s Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

As a journalist, she has written for The Guardian (UK), The Nation, Village Voice, the New York Times, Sight and Sound (UK), San Francisco Bay Guardian, Elle, Mirabella, Chicago Reader, and other publications, as well as ex-website sf360. On radio, she has been a film commentator for The Arts Today on CBC radio in Canada and for The World, produced by PRI for NPR. On television, she won an Emmy for her work as a correspondent on Independent View, produced by KQED and aired internationally; she has also collaborated on programs or series for the IFC and Sundance cable channels, including Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema.

Peggy Phelan is the Ann O’Day Maples Chair in the Arts Professor of Theater & Performance Studies and English at Stanford University, as well as the Denning Family Director of the Stanford Arts Institute. Phelan is the author of Unmarked: the politics of performance (Routledge, 1993); Mourning Sex: performing public memories (Routledge, 1997); and editor and contributor to Live Art in Los Angeles (Routledge, 2012). Phelan is also co-editor of Acting Out: Feminist Performances (University of Michigan Press, 1993) and The Ends of Performance (New York University Press, 1997). She has written more than sixty articles and essays in scholarly, artistic, and commercial magazines ranging from Artforum to Signs. She served on the Editorial Board of Art Journal and as Chair of the board. She has been President and Treasurer of Performance Studies international, a fellow of the Getty Research Institute and the Stanford Humanities Center, and in 2004 was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. She chaired the Department of Performance Studies at New York University and the Drama Department at Stanford University.

Elizabeth Thomas is a San Francisco-based curator and writer. She is also the newly appointed Director of Public Engagement at the de Young Museum, San Francisco CA. Her curatorial work focuses primarily on research-based commissions with artists in museum contexts and increasingly in public space. Considering primary questions of political and social engagement, her projects place an emphasis on interdisciplinarity as well as formal and conceptual experimentation, including an upcoming performance and radio series with Michael Rakowitz, Radio Silence, that considers Iraq in both its destruction and its displacements. In her previous curatorial positions at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Carnegie Museum of Art, she has also produced projects with Omer Fast, Futurefarmers, Jill Magid, Trevor Paglen, Jill Magid, Allison Smith, Christian Jankowski, Ahmet Ogut, and Tomas Saraceno, among others. She lectures and publishes frequently, and serves as Senior Lecturer in both Curatorial Practice and Graduate Fine Arts at the California College of the Arts.


Lynn Hershman Leeson: Civic Radar is curated by Peter Weibel and Andreas Beitin, and organized by ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. The presentation at YBCA is organized by Lucía Sanromán, Director of Visual Arts, YBCA.

YBCA Exhibitions 2016–2017 are made possible, in part, by: Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan, Meridee Moore and Kevin King, and the Creative Ventures Council.

YBCA Programs 2016-2017 are made possible, in part, by: The James Irvine Foundation.

Additional Funding for YBCA Programs 2016–2017: National Endowment for the Arts, Adobe, Abundance Foundation, Gaia Fund, Grosvenor, and members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Free First Tuesdays underwritten by Directors Forum Members.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

Lead Image: Published by Hatje Cantz