Born 1954 Liverpool

Other name(s) Linder Sterling


Ranging from photomontage to performance, Linder’s work is central to histories of feminist art and experimental art practice. Linder was born in Manchester and studied Graphic Design at Manchester Polytechnic between 1974 and 1977. One of her early works was the cover design for the 1977 single release of Orgasm Addict by the punk band, the Buzzcocks. In 1978, Linder founded the post-punk band Ludus, performing as its singer until it split up in 1983. Her distinctive vocal techniques included screaming, laughter and unusual sounds, while her lyrics focused on female desire, alienation, sexual politics and gender roles. Her photomontages, for which she is best known, draw on the DIY philosophy and aesthetic of punk, combined with art historical influences including Dadaism, Surrealism and Old Master paintings. She has described them as ‘peculiar jigsaws highlighting various cultural monstrosities’ from vintage men’s and women’s magazines. In 2020 Kettle’s Yard hosted a retrospective, titled Linderism, which included the performance Bower of Bliss: An Improper Architecture, co-commissioned with the WAC and performed at Murray Edwards. Read curator Dr Amy Tobin’s essay about the performance here.

Artwork Information

Hiding But Still Not Knowing (1981/2010)

In this photographic self-portrait, Linder uses clichés from fashion to create the appearance of wealth and glamour. This impression is undermined, however, by her greasy hair, badly applied lipstick and hole-ridden lacy top. Her wide-eyed, defiant expression makes it seem as though she might be there against her will. The plastic wrapped around her mouth simultaneously evokes traditional bridal wear, kitchen packaging such as cling film and gear used in bondage and BDSM. The sitter’s three-quarter pose and the black-and-white colour reference the conventions of Victorian studio photography, while the large scale of the image creates an immediate confrontation between the sitter and viewer. The alluring yet sinister composition questions the way in which women fashion themselves and for whom.