Barbara Hammer, Superdyke
Jul 19 — Jul 28, 2019
“I choose film and video as a medium to make the invisible, visible. Anyone can be left out of history. I am compelled to reveal and celebrate marginalized peoples whose stories have not been told. . . . I want people to leave the theater with fresh perceptions and emboldened to take active and political stances for social change in a global environment.”—Barbara Hammer
When legendary filmmaker Barbara Hammer died earlier this year, she left behind an incomparable, enduringly vital body of work. This comprehensive retrospective offers New York audiences an opportunity to experience her films in optimal conditions, thanks to painstaking restorations and thoughtful presentations by two people who have long been close to her work.
The program, organized by KJ Relth, film programmer at UCLA Film & Television Archive, and Mark Toscano, film preservationist at the Academy Film Archive, was originally presented in Los Angeles with the participation of Barbara Hammer in 2018. Two of these discussions are archived online here and here. The series description below and individual programs were written by Relth and Toscano.
By the very nature of her multifaceted identity, lesbian feminist filmmaker and artist Barbara Hammer (1939–2019) maintained a formal fluidity in her half-century-long practice effectively unparalleled by any living moving image maker. From her first Super 8 experiment, Schizy (1968), Hammer gave herself permission to fearlessly follow her instincts. Through her explicit and politically charged work of the 1970s to her material interactions and printing exercises of the 1980s and continuing with her seamless adoption of analog and digital video, Hammer’s visual lyricism and sensuality dance invariably within each of her over 80 moving image works in a conscious, active (re)writing and (re)defining of a singular cinematic language.
Capturing subjects considered verboten—joyous lesbian sensuality, female sexual pleasure, aging, death and dying, menstruation—Hammer boldly confronts normative representations of women and characterizations of gender expression, commanding and claiming space for a refreshingly new aesthetic and sensibility, queer or otherwise, in experimental film that continues to inspire generations of artists across myriad layers of identification. Her inclusion of queer women in works both traditionally documentative and those more performative allowed for not just increased visibility of lesbian culture in their day, but also an invaluable archive of the ever-evolving political and social objectives of communities often rendered invisible.
Organized by KJ Relth and Mark Toscano
Co-presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and UCLA Film and Television Archive