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Female Closet

This fascinating film from renowned filmmaker Barbara Hammer combines rare footage, interviews, and rich visual documentation to survey the lives of variously closeted women artists from different segments of the 20th century: Victorian photographer Alice Austen, Weimar collagist Hannah Höch, and present-day painter Nicole Eisenman. In a compelling examination of the art world’s treatment of lesbians, Hammer documents how the museum devoted to Austen ignores the implications of her cross-dressing photos, how the Museum of Modern Art glossed over Höch’s sexuality in a major exhibit, and how Eisenman’s work based on patriarchal porn is described by critics as “liberating, fun, and over the top”. Examining the museum as closet, and the negotiation of visibility and secrecy in lesbian history, this thoughtful film is a provocative look at the relationship between art, life, and sexuality.

Sponsored by The Queer Curatorial Fund of UWM’s Department of Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres

(Barbara Hammer, USA, 60 min, 1998)