Dani Lessnau—Artist, Photographer

about her




2022 L’Atelier, Nantes, France

2020 Eros & Photography. Part I: Behind Desire, CHAUSSEE 36, Berlin, Germany


2019 IRL: Investigating Reality, The Untitled Space, NYC

2019 Conditions of Exchange, pop up gallery at 80 Nassau street, NYC

2018 Our Souls to Keep, Field Projects, NYC

2018 Figure Fuggenti, Acta International, Rome

2018 Divina Comedia, XXXI Festival International of Sexual Diversity at Museo Universitario del Chopo

2018 Opening Reading, collaboration with D. Graham Burnett, Cambridge, MA

2017 Notas al Futuro, Galerié Breve, Mexico City

2017 Honorable mention in the annual juried competition, Baxter Street Gallery, New York.  

2017 Hidden Narratives, Rita K. Hillman Gallery, New York


Focales article by Marc Lenot

Ekphrasis Journal article by Alexandra Turcu

A Woman’s Right to Pleasure 

BUST Magazine


Refinery 29

W Magazine


Cultura Colectiva

Fisheye Magazine

Rotten Magazine

NR Magazine

Using her own body as her medium, Dani Lessnau explores properties of the gaze, the body, and the photographic process. In extimité, Lessnau turns her body into a camera obscura to record intimate moments with past and present sexual partners. The camera demarcates internal and external space and underscores the penetration of her body by both light and lovers, but also her agency in image making. The female gaze renders bodies familiar and alien, tender and erotic, strong and vulnerable, specific and abstract. Blurred images suggest the fluid and visceral nature of relating to the other while experiencing ones own physical reactions. Lessnau’s darkroom process is heavily physical and tactile, complicating photographic conventions of how an image should be captured and read. The result is an experience of intimate space that feels at once voyeuristic and affecting.  

Lessnau studied at the International Center of Photography, New York and is presently pursuing her MFA at Bard College. She lives and works in Brooklyn.

Contacts: Email or Instagram



extimité is a performance recorded with the photographic medium. Using my body and the bodies of past and present lovers, I explore the capacity of a body to be simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, erotic and physiological, while navigating an uncanny space between surveillance and intimacy.   

The performance, occurring in a private space between two people, involves inserting a pinhole camera into my vagina, directed outward. The long exposures subject the film to the movement of breath and viscera. The receptivity of the film as material is in direct conversation with the position of the camera in a receptive orifice of my body. It is a collaborative process of becoming vulnerable and surrendering control.

As the light reflected from the male body enters mine it is distorted by my internal movements. The resulting image is an exploration of the inter-penetration of interior and exterior; in terms of physical energy, form, and psychological relationship.  I am concerned not just with the inversion of these terms –  internal and external – but with the disintegration of rigid definitions as one merges into the other in an ever evolving play. No longer in an exclusively somatic or visual space, the performance creates a dynamic that includes both; one where they can no longer be separated.