Betty Leirner

BL. early manifests interest in the equivalences between word and image, 

holding her first solo exhibition in 1978 at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. 

On the same occasion, MASP launches her first book ‘Squares of Light’ published by Massao Ohno.


In 1981, after graduating in Cinema at the School of Communication and Arts, the University of São Paulo, BL. moves from the city to the Italian and German Alps and the French Pyrenees where her daughters Lua Felicia and Lira were born.


In 1987, reflecting on the relationships and aspects between visual texts and textual images, Betty Leirner  conceives the project ‘Palavra Imágica / Imagic Word’ for the MAC  Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo. This historic exhibition brings together forty seminal Brazilian poet-artists and artist-poets among which Waldemar Cordeiro, Pedro Xisto, Mira Schendel, Wesley Duke Lee, Regina Vater, Hélio Oiticica and Julio Plaza.


In Hamburg, Germany, where she lived for over twenty years, BL. held exhibitions at the Schauspielhaus, Filmhaus and Kunsthaus. In 1994 she was invited to develop a permanent textual intervention at the Literaturhaus. By means of a donation, the Hamburger Kulturstiftung  assigns Betty Leirner’s work ‘Satz’ (enunciation) – on display from 1994 to 1996 – to the Literaturhaus.


Betty Leirner holds punctual readings at the Documenta Archiv in Kassel 1992 ( ‘Les êtres lettres’ ) Frankfurt Book Fair 1994 (‘Les êtres lettres’) and 1995 at the Literaturhaus Vienna  (‘Abstract Poetry’).


In Berlin, she holds a series of one-off performances and solo readings at the independent Space acud (‘The Poet Bird’), at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt 1998  (‘Videopoems,Translations’) at the ICBRA1999  (‘Figures of Spreech’) and at the Literarisches Colloquium among others. During this period she writes and publishes meticulous theoretical-poetic texts .


Working simultaneously with music, photography and moving images, she produces in the nineties a vast series of Photographic Sequences, Audiofilms and Videopoems. In 1997 at the Centre Saint Gervais pour l’Image Contemporaine in Geneva, she receives the Prix Michael Jordi de Photographie Honorable Mention at the exhibition ‘La Suisse ailleurs, autrement’.  


In 1999, as a German poet, B. was present at the exhibition ‘Texte Sehen – Deutsche und Japanische Visuelle Poesie’ at the Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry Tanka and Haiku in Kitakami. 


She returns to Japan in 2000 at the invitation of the Doitsu Bunka Kaikan (Kansai) to spend a month in Kyoto and to exhibit her audiovisual work in Kyoto and Osaka.

The following year, at the Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology Hamburg), she installs the snapshot-series  ‘Nowhereland, Japan’ (Japan, Terra Incognita)  alongside her ‘dj d’images compilation screenings’ at the Metropolis Kino, Hamburg’s Cinemathèque.


In 2000, the Ludwig Forum for International Kunst in Aachen, Germany, invites her to produce the edition ‘Placenta Writing’ (a cycle of poems from 1978) as a double audio CD entitled ‘Memory and  Merge’.


Paço das Artes São Paulo presents in 2001 the edition and ‘Lovers’ in the  exhibition ‘Betty Leirner Splace, Episodes of Subjective Geography’. 


In 2002 she establishes the studio ‘Landscape’ at the Tri-Rhine region, on the intersection between France, Germany and Switzerland. In 2003 she receives the Zurich biennial Omanut prize for her film ‘Political Mistakes’, three years later, the foundation Gertrude Schlatter / Hanni Pfister in Geneva grants support to B. Leirner`s project ‘Nowhereland, Suisse’. 


On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Brazilian Exhibition of Concrete Art , the Museu de Arte Moderna MAM São Paulo presents ‘O Reino menos o Rei’, a 16mm film by Betty Leirner inspired by poet Augusto de Campos’  pre-concrete book ‘O Rei menos o Reino’ from 1951. Realised in collaboration with Francisco Magaldi and unseen since 1980, the film was telecinated thirty years later by the Cinemateca Brasileira. In October 2007, The Barbican Center London screened ‘O Reino menos o Rei’ as the only short film of the programme series ‘Cinema of Brazil, Literature into Film’.   


In 2007 together with Florian Kutzli, Betty Leirner opens the curatorial space ‘Maison de la Poésie’  in Basel with a compilation of rare films by the French filmmaker Chris Marker. discreet, Engaged and collaborating with philosophers, filmmakers, artists and poets, ‘la Maison de la Poésie’ invites Elisabeth Walther Bense, Agnès Varda and Alexander Wollner to come to Basel for the first time. 

In 2010, the Cinemateca Brasileira exhibits a Retrospective with several programmes of her short films. 


In 2014, Charles Cosac publishes the book ‘Betty Leirner Art Beyond Art’  authored by Lucia Santaella.


Since the seventies, BL. actualizes a synthesis between concepts, tongues and languages.