Star Series No. 1 | London, South Kensington | printed paper collage on found magazine page | 28 x 20.6cm

“Art is a miracle, and I’m so relieved at those rare moments when someone gets it right.”

Morrissey on Linder, Interview Magazine

In 1976, Linda Mulvey met Howard Devoto of the Buzzcocks and Stephen Morrissey (later known as just “Morrissey”) when the Sex Pistols played in her hometown of Manchester. At the time, the British artist was studying at Manchester University and experimenting with collage — along with her name, which changed from Mulvey to Linder Sterling, and then simply to “Linder.”

“I have always worked with found material—a photograph, a magazine, a film still, myself. I commence the creative act and I’m quite happily guilty of theft,” Linder told Morrissey in Interview. “The trick that follows is to find the gesture that returns newness to the familiar.”

After that fateful meeting with Devoto and Morrissey, Linder created the fanzine  Secret Public a fanzine with writer Jon Savage. The zine combined pornographic images with mail order catalogue clippings and snippets from popular women’s magazines at the time. A year later, the collage Untitled (1977) became the cover art for the Buzzcocks' infamous "Orgasm Addict" single, in which a clothes iron replaces the head of a nude woman, and smiling mouths replace her nipples.

“Linder's collages are not mere punk provocation or cheap surreal absurdity,” David Banash writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “She is far too precise and devastating for that. She vivisects collective desires, disturbing the smooth functioning of our fantasies about sex, gender, and the good life.”

In 1978, the artist formed the band Ludus, and wore her legendary meat dress at The Hacienda club in Manchester on November 5, 1982; almost 30 years later, Lady Gaga wore a similar dress for the MTV Video Music Awards.  The same year Linder started performing with Ludus, she designed the album artwork for the band Magazine’s debut album, Real Life.

For most of her life, the artist has lived under the radar of the mainstream art world, but in 2007, Linder received her first big break with the group show, entitled, “Panic Attack! Art in the Punk Years” at the Barbican, in London. Opening in February of last year, she had her first major solo retrospective at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, entitled Linder: Woman/Object, which later travelled to Hanover, Kestnergesellschaft in June of the same year. Linder lives and works in Heysham, UK.  

Additional sources:

S. Morrissey on Linder in Interview Magazine.

David Banash, The Los Angeles Review of Books.

S. O’Hagan, The Observer.

Linder at the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Linder at Kestnergesellschaft

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