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Barbara Hammer

Barbara Hammer was born on May 15, 1939 in Hollywood, California.She is a visual artist working primarily in film and video and has made over 80 works in a career that spans 30 years. She is considered a pioneer of queer cinema. She recently had a Tribute Retrospective at the Chinese Cultural University in Taiwan where she also led a workshop "Strategic Planning for Film/Video Artists." Her experimental films of the 1970’s often dealt with taboo subjects such as menstruation, female orgasm and lesbian sexuality. In the 80’s she used optical printing to explore perception and the fragility of 16mm film life itself. Optic Nerve (1985) and Endangered (1988) were selected for the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennials (’85,’89). Her documentaries tell the stories of marginalized peoples who have been hidden from history and are often essay films that are multi-leveled and engage audiences viscerally and intellectually with the goal of activating them to make social change. Nitrate Kisses (1992) was chosen for the 1993 Whitney Biennial.Hammer was a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Fall 2005 at the Bratislava Academy of Art and Design, Slovakia; she received the first Shirley Clarke Avant-Garde Filmmaker Award in October 2006 and the Women In Film Award 2006 from the St. Louis International Film Festival. In February 2007, she was awarded a tribute and retrospective at the Chinese Cultural University Digital Imaging Center in Taipei, Taiwan sponsored by Women Make Waves Film Festival. In April, 2008, Diving Women of Jeju-do premiered at the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival where Hammer presented followed by a trip to Beijing where she showed her 1970 lesbian films to a Feminist Seminar and a new LGTQI Center.

Her most recent work is an experimental film on cancer and hope, A Horse Is Not A Metaphor, which she premiered in June, 2008 at the 32nd Frameline International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in San Francisco. It is selected for the Berlin International Film Festival in February, 2009 and Doc Fortnight at the Museum of Modern Art, February, 2009. It is in the short film competition at Punta de Vista Film Festival in Pamplona, Spain and Festival des Films des Femmes, Creteil, France.

She has had retrospectives at The Berlin Film Festival and Centre Pompidou, Paris in 1985, the Digital University Taiwan in 2005, Universitad Complutense in Madrid in 2008.

Hammer received an IASPIS artist residency for 2009 in Sweden.

Her memoir, HAMMER, Making It in Sex and Movies is forthcoming from the Feminist Press at CUNY in spring 2010 and will coincide with a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

She teaches each summer at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. She lives and works in New York City.

Her memoir, HAMMER! Making Movies Out Of Sex and Life is forthcoming from the Feminist Press at CUNY in spring 2010 and will coincide with a retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Reina Sophia in Madrid, and the Tate Modern in London. (09/09)


The Female Closet
A film by Barbara Hammer, 1998, 60 min., Color

This fascinating film from renowned filmmaker Barbara Hammer combines rare footage, interviews, and rich visual documentation to survey the lives of v...

Out in South Africa
A film by Barbara Hammer, 1995, 51 min., Color

In 1994, Barbara Hammer was invited to South Africa to present a retrospective of her 77 films and videos at OUT IN SOUTH AFRICA, the first gay and le...

Tender Fictions
A film by Barbara Hammer, 1995, 58 min., Color

Innovative, funny, and historic, TENDER FICTIONS is an autobiographical exploration of the search for and meaning of gay community. From a childhood ...



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