Tonight avant-garde filmmaker Barbara Hammer will be at Reading Frenzy speaking from her recently published book Hammer:Making Movies Out of Sex and Life.
Many of her films have come together under the genre of meta-documentary, where, as she has stated in past lectures, "ideas and questions propose possibilities and points of view that are often self-reflexive". Her first book similarly reads as a meta-autobiography. Part essay on the times, part grippingly personal narrative, Hammer works her way through childhood memory on into her formative years as a budding, lesbian filmmaker in the 70s.
The book embellishes in lesser known short films such as Superdyke, where dykes armed with cardboard Amazon shields take over San Fransisco's City Hall. And on a Northwest note, Hammer has included performances in Portland, where, in 1979, she blew up a 12 foot weather balloon and projected a Gloria Churchman movie! In reading Hammer, definitely expect to be bombarded with a constant barage of seriously amazing performance stills and personal photos.
I was able to catch up with her briefly between cities this past week, though unfortunately we were cut off at the beginning of our conversation. Guess we'll be continuing our conversation tonight! Hope you too will make it out to hear more of her "glorious time of feminist ideals and lesbian bed-hopping"!
In lieu of 110 images in 4 minutes, Brooklyn Art Museum calls Dyketactics a "lesbian commercial". Although of course the work runs deeper, did this sentiment, of exposing lesbian culture to a broader audience, work its way into the process of creating this short? Did you feel as though you were presenting lesbian culture, or simply documenting your experiences?
I actually jokingly call it a lesbian commercial. Each image has the sense of touch in it or an image of touch. It isn't about the lesbian culture but about my own artistic aesthetics where I believe becoming a lesbian increased my sense of touch through touching a body similar to my own. My perception is tactile. What I see with my eyes I feel with my body. I was making a film of my experience and hoping to connect with others. That is the best we each can do.
What was the queer scene in the 1970s largely like? What were the resounding responses to your first works?
A vital, emerging scene with women, that's who I know about, coming out one after another. If you read my book you will read that a friend today could be a lover tomorrow and an ex the following week. We were an experimenting social group creating a new order and trying to make social change.
Responses to first works were sometimes positive and sometimes negative.