Books | Linder
Artwork: Linder Untitled, 2007 Photomontage on magazine page 35.5 x 52 cm | 14 x 20 1/2 in
Linder Sterling makes some of the most extraordinary photomontages the world has ever seen, creating a delectable body of work exploring representations of female sexuality. Equal parts cheeky and chic, Linder puts the sexy back in soft focus centerfolds, while giggling all the way to the bank. By taking pre-existing soft-focus pornography and combining it with flora, fauna, food items (really anything of the sort that conveys the desire to acquire, to have and to hold), Linder reminds us that the image of women is very much a construction for consumption itself. What’s endlessly charming is the simple fact that Linder simultaneously indulges our consumption of this construction while simultaneously deconstructing it. In celebration of a career that spans four decades, the artist has released a sumptuous monograph with 270 pages of pure pleasure. Linder (Ridinghouse) features numerous series made throughout her career, along with a series of interviews that gives insight into mind behind the work.
Born Linda Mulvey in Liverpool, UK, in 1954, Linder studied art at Manchester Polytechnic from 1974–77 and became a well-known figure on the local punk scene. She describes working on photomontage as, “low maintenance and incredibly liberating—all you need is a magazine, a pair of scissors and glue, a cigarette too, if the mood takes you. Photomontage doesn’t even require a studio. All of my early work was made on a kitchen table in the time-honored tradition of other female artists—I didn’t even have a desk then! I can now make work anywhere in the world as long as there is some form of print media to hand. I love the economy of means of photomontage, it allows great freedom. I love the fragility both materially and conceptually. There’s nothing monumental or heroic about my work, it’s made from that which no longer serves its purpose, that which has narrowly escaped the waste paper basket. I am the consummate recycler.”
And yet, as Linder reveals, the work is not merely the recycling of that which has come before but rather the creation of art through intent. It is by virtue of overwhelming demand that pornographic material is among the most banal and disposable categories of media. With familiarity, its effectiveness wanes, and so it is by virtue of Linder’s vision that the image is given entirely new life, no longer a mere vehicle for fantasy, it has become the ends rather than the means.
Linder is fun, funny, sexy, silly, and sublime. It is inspiring, uplifting, and empowering while sassing everyone at the same time. As Linder reveals, “The process is playful, even if the intention behind the work isn’t…. The most successful pictures are often made very quickly—trying to shoehorn a photomontage together doesn’t work for me. There has to be a lightness of touch otherwise it feels dead before it has even been born. If something feels to engineered then I move on to the next image and loop back later.” It is this sensitivity that makes each work a pleasure to behold, for it is with each photomontage that Linder continues to break the mold.
All artworks: © Linder. Courtesy Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.
Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.