Leah Schrager is a feminist web artist living in NYC. Having created multiple online personas over the past few years, she turns herself into an art object through self-representation, capturing her own naked female body. After graduating in 2015 with an MFA in Fine Art from Parsons, The New School, she launched a celebrity-as-art-practice project called ONA, which is set to run until 2020. Making herself a real world celebrity has so far involved the creation and growth of her Instagram account, which has over 1.4 Million followers, the release of her EP “Sex Rock,” and the publication of “Self-Made Supermodels” in Rhizome. In 2018 she’ll be releasing her first album, going on tour, and finishing a documentary film about her IG reaching 1M. Unlike most contemporary female artists who ignore or critique the male gaze, Schrager embraces and explores it through utilizing an open-minded approach to sexuality that fluidly includes its dynamics in her aesthetic investigations.
KALTBLUT: How did you first get interested into creating art? Was it one moment you can pin down or a general process?
Leah: I wanted to own and interact with my own image. Prior to being an artist I was a modern dancer and a model, and due to the struggle of trying to own and manipulate my image, I transitioned to art.
KALTBLUT: You are positively described as a feminst artist. What is feminism to you?
Leah: Freedom and support for women and men to show or not show and interact with or not interact with their body and other bodies in whatever way they like in a consensual context.
KALTBLUT: As you basically work with new media and online, how do you feel the internet has revolutionized making but also viewing art?
Leah: It has made it so that the audience for art can be both a general populist audience and an intentional art-going audience at the same time. This is what is now so exciting. It has torn down the walls between elite and common and created a new world of freedom and interaction that is only just beginning.
KALTBLUT: How do you use these new media & tech as a means of self-exploration?
Leah: For me new media offers self-publishing, self-production, self-hosting. So it allows me to create and distribute my work. It also allows me to interact with those outside of the NY art scene, which is refreshing and exciting.
KALTBLUT: How do social media empower female artists to seize control of their own images & artistry, despite the male-dominated reality? How have they changed things for you as a person and as an artist?
Leah: Social media has allowed me to interact with men and women on different platforms under different usernames, so I feel I have a lot of insight into the actual reality of women who use their bodies provocatively online. Interestingly, women are more often than not the censors of my provocative work.
KALTBLUT: What is the female gaze to you?
Leah: A woman looking at herself.
KALTBLUT: You are already doing so much at the moment. What is next? How do you work? Do you plan ahead or prefer not to?
As far as my visual art practice, I don’t plan ahead, I just sit down everyday and see what comes. I will have work in Spring Break Art Fair and Scope Art Fair in NYC in March.
For @OnaArtist’s Instagram of 1.4m, I will be on Viceland in late February 2018 and I will be releasing my first album as well as going on tour in March 2018.