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Barbara Hammer: Ecstatic Subjectivity

October 22, 2019 @ 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM


Barbara Hammer: Ecstatic Subjectivity
Throughout her career, many of Barbara Hammer’s more visually ecstatic works reveal a psychedelic thread running through her filmography, from her 1968 debut Schizy, to a recently completed piece by Deborah Stratman which re-envisions a film shot by Hammer in rural Guatemala in the mid-’70s. Using various technical and formal approaches including time lapse, optical printing, animation, and other material interventions, Hammer has regularly embraced the presence and physicality of film to deeply mine the rapture of subjective vision. (KJ Relth and Mark Toscano)

Total running time: 75 mins.

Work to screen:

(Barbara Hammer, 16mm, b/w & color. 6min., 1975)
“The sub-personalities of me as baby, athlete, witch and artist are synthesized in this film of superimpositions, intensities, and color layers coming together through the powers of film.
Restored by Electronic Arts Intermix and the Academy Film Archive through the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Avant-Garde Masters Grant program and The Film Foundation. Funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

Dir. Barbara Hammer. 1968, 4 mins. 16mm (originally Super 8), color, silent.
New print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive

See What You Hear What You See
Dir. Barbara Hammer. 1983, 3 mins. 16mm, b/w.
Restored by the Academy Film Archive

Available Space
Dir. Barbara Hammer. 1979, 10 mins. 16mm, color.
Available Space is a film made for performance on a 360 degree rotary projection table. A woman breaks through confining architectural space, the limited space of a film frame, and the boundaries of a movie screen. Unexpected angles, corners, slants, floor and ceiling are engaged in unexpected play and projection. The film can also be shown as a single channel without live performance.”

(Barbara Hammer and Barbara Klutinis,  6 mins. 16mm, color., 1981)
“My aesthetics in co-making POOLS with Barbara Klutinis was to bring an experiential and physiological sense of the body to the members of the audience watching the film in terms of the locations, the swimming pools designed by the first woman architect to graduate from the School of Beaux Arts in Paris, Julia Morgan. I want the viewers to have the experience of swimming in architectural space for two reasons. First and foremost, I want to activate my audience, I want them to come alive, not be passive through watching cinema, and then to extend that “aliveness” into their lives through conscious expansive living and responsible politics. The second reason I swam and filmed in those pools was to break a taboo. No visitors are allowed to swim in these gorgeous examples of Morgan’s work. At least by getting permission to swim there myself with an underwater camera I could extend through vision this extraordinary physical experience.”
Restored by the Academy Film Archive

Our Trip
(Barbara Hammer, 16mm, color, 4 min., 1980)
“Feminist filmmaker and performance artist Barbara Hammer has celebrated her recent trip to Peru with her friend Corky Wick through a diaristic animation of photographs they took during their travels. Landscapes and portraits are given growing patterns of framing and texture with magic markers and tempera paint, expressing the richly evocative folk art of the Incan people they saw as we hear their native music resonate on the soundtrack.” – Anthony Reveaux
Restored by the Academy Film Archive

Place Mattes
Barbara Hammer,16mm, color., 8min., 1987/2018
“Traveling mattes of the artist’s torso, limbs, and extremities in Puget Sound, Yosemite and the Yucatan. Her attempt to “touch” nature is removed and blocked between figure and ground setups by the optical printer’s flatness of planes.

“As the figure and ground are presented as two planar relationships, flattened and made two-dimensional through optical printing, so the artist (figure) is unable to touch the natural environment (ground) in Puget Sound, Yosemite and the Yucatan, yet finally comes to rest in the interior space of a restaurant.”
Restored by the Academy Film Archive.

Vever (for Barbara_
(Deborah Stratman and Barbara Hammer, Digital, color., 12min., 2018)
A cross-generational binding of three filmmakers seeking alternative possibilities to the power structures they are inherently part of. Each woman extends her reach to a subject she is outside of. Vever grew out of the abandoned film projects of Maya Deren and Barbara Hammer. Shot at the furthest point of a motorcycle trip Hammer took to Guatemala in 1975, and laced through with Deren’s reflections of failure, encounter and initiation in 1950s Haiti.

A vever is a symbolic drawing used in Haitian Voodoo to invoke Loa, or god.

Presented in arrangement with Video Data Bank

Bent Time
Barbara Hammer, DCP, color. 22min., 1984
Bent Time is influenced by scientists who have noted that light rays curve at the outer edges of the universe leading them to theorize that time also bends. A one-point perspective visual path across the US beginning inside a linear accelerator – or atom-smashing device – and traveling to such high-energy locations as the home of an ancient sun calendar in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico; the site of Ohio Valley Mound cultures; the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges; and beyond. Inspired by this idea, I used an extreme wide angle lens of 9mm and ‘one frame of film per foot of physical space’ to simulate the concept of time bending. The film is accompanied by Pauline Oliveros’ original score for voice and accordion, Rattlesnake Mountain.”
Restored by the Academy Film Archive

Presented as a part of:
Barbara Hammer (1939-2019): In Tribute 

Three rich programs or recent restorations and new 16mm prints celebrating the career of Barbara Hammer, the singularly pioneering, lesbian feminist experimental filmmaker, who we lost earlier this year. The three programs – with over 20 works to screen — are but a sampling of this maker’s considerable and exuberant achievement, film and video work demonstrating an ongoing activist sensibility that encouraged an experimentation with the formal possibilities of her media and a representationally and politically expansive reach to her subject matter.

The programs are curated by KJ Relth, programmer for the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and Mark Toscano, film preservationist at the Academy Film Archive, the archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. (The notes here are provided by the curators). All 16mm prints are courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. Digital materials presented in arrangement with Electronic Arts Intermix and Video Data Bank. Thanks to the UWM Union Cinema, the UWM Department of Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres, and Woodland Pattern Book Center for their co-sponsorship of this series.


The Barbara Hammer programs are all free.


October 22, 2019
8:00 PM - 9:30 PM


UWM Union Cinema
2nd Level, UWM Student Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd
Milwaukee, United States
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