Barbara Hammer © Mickaline Thomas, 2019
Sanctus, 20 min, 1990
Sanctus is a film of the rephotographed moving x-rays originally shot by Dr. James Sibley Watson and his colleagues. Making the invisible visible, the film reveals the skeletal structure of the human body as it protects the hidden fragility of interior organ systems. Sanctus portrays a body in need of protection on a polluted planet where immune system disorders proliferate.
Dyketactics, 4 min, 1974 (film available: December 2 – December 23, 2020)
Hammer’s films of the ’70s are the first made by an openly lesbian American filmmaker to explore lesbian identity, desire and sexuality through avant-garde strategies. Merging the physicality of the female body with that of the film medium, Hammer’s films remain memorable for their pioneering articulation of a lesbian aesthetic. – Jenni Sorkin
Masha Gessen: Yesterday, when I was leaving, I quoted someone who had watched your movies and said, “She makes being lesbian look like such fun.” And you said, “But it is.” What makes it so fun?
Barbara Hammer: To me, pleasure is in surprising, playing with someone else in a way you’re not expecting or allowing them in to play with you. A sense of “anything can go,” and we can go from traditional behaviors to joking, bringing ideas together, maybe ideas that wouldn’t normally be said. We’d both be laughing. That could lead to another thing. In the seventies, we were going further into understanding what are the politics of being gay, what are the politics of being in a relationship with a woman or women. This was a time of experimenting, of having two women at a time, finding out, as I did, how difficult it was to be doubly engaged, to be able to balance myself in a relationship. But the relationships were so different. I couldn’t give one up for the other, because one would bring me into politics and the other, a woman who’s twelve years older than me, was an artist I admire greatly but who’s married to a man. One would introduce me to what Leninism was. All these women had great influences on me.
Read Barbara Hammer’s Exit Interview in the New Yorker here.
Sanctus images and artwork courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York and ©Barbara Hammer Estate.
Screening co-presented with Electronic Arts Intermix, celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2021.