A Tribute to Barbara Hammer: Making Movies out of Sex and Life

This event took place on May 22, 2019

$12 General Admission
$9 Student/Senior
$7 Member

Barbara Hammer
1h 15m

On Film

** Both films presented on 16mm **


** Copresented by Engauge Experimental Film Festival **

Barbara Hammer (May 15, 1939 – March 16, 2019) is a key figure in the “second wave” of experimental women filmmakers. She made technically innovative, personal, essayistic, political, and passionate films for a full five decades. Nurtured and inspired by the films and lives of Maya Deren and Marie Menken, Hammer’s filmmaking practice took root in the ’70s, when she became a pioneering figure in the film portrayal of lesbian identity, creating iconic works like Dyketactics (1974). Through her work as a filmmaker, teacher, and author, she continued to inspire young women filmmakers. Her book, Hammer: Making Movies Out of Sex and Life was published by The Feminist Press in 2010.

A few months ago, Hammer delivered a lecture at the Whitney Museum in New York called “The Art of Dying (or, Palliative Art Making in the Age of Anxiety)” that contextualized her own imminent death from terminal cancer in relation to her artmaking practice. We are deeply moved by the courage and generosity with which she shared the details of her transition. Join Engauge Experimental Film Festival and Northwest Film Forum for a memorial screening and celebration of Barbara Hammer’s life and work on May 22nd.

Photo credit, B&W photo of Hammer: Barbara Hammer © 1993 by Joyce Culver.
Photo credit, color photo of Hammer: Queer | Art.

Screening in this program:

Place Mattes

(US, 1987, color/b&w, sound, 8 min)

Traveling mattes of the artist’s torso, limbs, and extremities in Puget Sound, Yosemite and the Yucatan.

As the figure (traveling mattes of the artist’s torso, limbs, and extremities) and ground (Puget Sound, Yosemite and the Yucatan) 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), yet finally comes to rest in the interior space of a restaurant.

Description provided by the filmmaker. Sound score by Terry Setter.

Nitrate Kisses

(US, 1992, b&w, sound, 67 min)

Nitrate Kisses explores eroded emulsions and images for lost vestiges of lesbian and gay culture in this first feature by Hammer. A forbidden and invisible history of a marginalized people are put in context by the contemporary sexual activities of four gay and lesbian couples. The role of sexuality in the historic present underscores the resistance of two cultures, gay and lesbian, struggling to survive in the complex interaction of power and domination of a dominant heterosexist ideology.

Description provided by the filmmaker.

Passionate, subjective meditation on the repressed and marginalized history of gay women and men.” – Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“Nitrate Kisses brings past and present into dialogue, mixing the sound of testimonials with the image of sex acts, refusing to allow its audience the escape of either amnesia, or invisibility.” – B. Ruby Rich, pop culture critic

“Nitrate Kisses conjures history from shadows, layering the voices of lesbians and gay men into rhythmic lyric.” – Lawrence Chua, Artforum

"Barbara Hammer’s Exit Interview" in The New Yorker

The pioneering filmmaker talks about her career, her quest to die with dignity, and why being a lesbian is so much fun.

Photograph by Elinor Carucci for The New Yorker.

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Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave,

Seattle, WA 98122

206 329 2629

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