Barbara Hammer

Evidentiary Bodies
2018

21.2. 15:00 OV Arsenal 1
23.2. 18:00 OV Akademie der Künste

10 min. Without dialogue.

A life lived within the sprocket holes of film can still dance.
The beauty of the human body, although maimed, dances forward.
Hope does not live eternal but daily.

An audience immersed in three screens to feel the encasement of illness, the isolation of the material body. The forever ongoing chain of film runs but cannot hold up the protagonist. Time is flexible as the body transforms and the film loops. A trilogy of the self, witness of decline and suffering, performing the unthinkable, inevitable, dance of death. Three surrounds, enfolds, embraces the one who cannot stand alone. We, as human beings on a small globe, united by evolutionary structure and biological DNA have a chance to come together through the experience of empathy and identification with the sensitive body. An unspoken plea for viewers to engage with compassion, to experience vulnerability, to know through evidence this body is their body. (Barbara Hammer)

Barbara Hammer, born in 1939 in Hollywood, USA, lives and works in New York City as a visual artist and filmmaker. Her diverse praxis for the past 40 years has a resonating impact on young artists today. Her work has been shown in major biennials and is included in several permanent collections. She has had major retrospectives in art institutions worldwide and is the author of “Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life” (Feminist Press 2009). Her films A Horse is not a Metaphor (2008), Generations (2010), and Maya Deren’s Sink (2011) received Teddy Awards.

Artist statement

Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion.

In these horrific times when lies are blatantly exclaimed as truths, when fear makes us withdraw from each other, when difference is maligned as xenophobia, and when atrocities are committed in the name of spectacle, we must find and practice a quiet way of compassion, sympathy, and generosity through empathy.

As a child and teenager in the years before going to college, I thought there must be some way we could understand the other person completely. Some way we could go inside our neighbor and feel as she feels, think as he thinks, know as they know. I thought there might be some medical hookup where fluids, innards could be exchanged. Where was feeling located anyway? We speak of the heart, the stomach, but isn’t it the brain? We are instructed to “open our hearts” but shouldn’t we “open our brains”?

In any case, no matter what we open, I have found no way to completely understand the “other” or be understood by another. I have resorted to film, moving images, and sound as the best path for me to make myself open, vulnerable, giving, sharing, and, yes, unique to my friends and fellow film makers, my artist colleagues, and those who love and appreciate creative and experimental making the world over.

I still long for that most intimate of sharing and although I can’t crawl inside my lover’s skin and experience her from the inside out, I can practice an empathetic listening, repeating back what I have heard and learned, sympathetically embracing “otherness” and difference. Through this “domestic” practice I extend these tools to the audience through performance in film. This places the work and the viewer in a new relationship in which the spatial field of the screen is expanded through exhalation and collapsed through inhalation. The work is experienced and perceived through the performer’s body as we breathe together remembering that cancer is not a “battle,” cancer is a disease. There are aberrant cells not “deadly foes.” She is not “combative” and “brave,” she is living with cancer. She is not going to win or lose her “battle”. She is not a “survivor,” she is living with cancer. There is not a “war” on cancer; there is concentrated research.

This could be empathy.

(Barbara Hammer)

Production Barbara Hammer. Production company Barbara Hammer Productions (New York, USA). Director Barbara Hammer. Director of photography Angel Favorite. Editing Barbara Hammer. Music Norman Scott Johnson. Sound design Barbara Hammer. Sound David Laurence Goldman. Production design Barbara Hammer. With Barbara Hammer.

Films

1968: Barbara Ward Will Never Die (3 min.), Schizy (4 min.). 1972: Elegy (3 min.), Traveling (8 min.), Marie and Me (12 min.), A Brakhage Song (3 min.). 1975: Jane Brakhage (9 min.), Menses (4 min.), Superdyke (25 min.), Psychosynthesis (8 min.), “X” (8 min.), A Gay Day (3 min.), Sisters! (8 min.), Yellow Hammer (3 min.), Dyketactics (4 min.), Song of the Klinking Kup (3 min.), I Was/I Am (7 min), Women’s Rites or Turth is the Daugher of Time (8 min.). 1976: Superdyke Meets Madame X (28 min., with Max Almy), Women I Love (25 min.), Stress Scars & Pleasure Wrinkles (20 min.), Moon Goddess (15 min., with Gloria Churchman). 1979: Available Space (20 min.), Double Strength (16 min.), Eggs (10 min.), Haircut (6 min.), Dream Age (12 min.), The Great Goddess (25 min.), Multiple Orgasm (6 min.), Home (12 min.), Sappho (7 min.). 1985: Optic Nerve & andere Kurzfilme (16 min., panorama 1986), Hot Flash (17 min.), Would You Like To Meet Your Neighbor? A New York Subway Tape (13 min.), Doll House (4 min.), Parisian Blinds (6 min.), Tourist (3 min.), See What You Hear What You See (3 min.), Bent Time (21 min.), Pearl Diver (6 min.), New York Loft (9 min.), Stone Circle (7 min.), Pools (9 min., with Barbara Klutinis), Sync Touch (10 min.), Audience (32 min.), Our Trip (4 min.), Pond and Waterfall (15 min.), Arequipa (12 min.), Machu Piccu (6 min.), Pictures for Barbara (10 min.), Bamboo Xerox (9 min.), The Lesbos Film (27 min.). 1986: Snow Job: The Media Hysteria of Aids (9 min.). 1988: Endangered (19 min.), Two Bad Daughters (12 min.), T.V. Tart (12 min.), History of the World According to a Lesbian (22 min.), Bedtime Stories, I, II, III (33 min.), No No Nooky T.V. (12 min.), Place Mattes (9 min.). 1990: Still Point (9 min.), Sanctus (19 min.). 1991: Vital Signs (9 min.), Dr. Watson’s X-Rays (22 min.). 1992: Nitrate Kisses (67 min., forum 2016). 1995: Tender Fictions (58 min., forum 1996). 1998: The Female Closet (58 min.), Blue Film No. 6: Love Is Where You Find I (3 min.), Out in South Africa (51 min.), Shirley Temple and Me (3 min.). 2000: Devotion, A Film about Ogawa Productions (84 min., forum 2001), History Lessons (66 min.). 2001: My Babushka: Searching Ukrainian Identities (53 min.). 2003: Resisting Paradise (80 min.). 2006: Lover Other (55 min., panorama 2006). 2007: Diving Women of Jeju-do (30 min.). 2008: A Horse Is Not A Metaphor (30 min., forum expanded 2009). 2009: Generations (with Gina Carducci, Forum Expanded 2011). 2011: Maya Deren's Sink (30 min., forum expanded 2011). 2015: Welcome To This House (79 min.), Lesbian Whale (7 min.). 2018: Evidentiary Bodies.

Photo: © Barbara Hammer