De Young Memorial Museum, Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park
Roberta Breitmore is a portrait of a woman in San Francisco: a collage of a person experiencing her environment. She is a contemporary heroine fashioned from real life and in real time. Her social identities – checkbook, licenses, handwriting and speech mannerisms are textures and testaments to her credibility.
Roberta’s construction is ambiguous. She is at once fictional and real; physical and ephemeral. As she gains experience and time dimension, the people that are incorporated into her history become fictionalized, archetypal characters. The articles of her life are both token symbols as well as functioning, necessary items.
Roberta Breitmore is a living tableau. Somewhere between the reality and imagination she breathes in the real spaces of her existence. She participates in the world, reflects the social preoccupations of her contemporaries, attends psychotherapy and weightwatchers and generally maps passages through which many people have traveled.
Roberta’s “mask” is achieved by using cosmetics as paint and her skin as a canvas. Her conversations reveal that everyone she meets is also wearing an “invisible” mask. (Hershman in Loeffler and Tong 1980: 305)