Barbara Hammer has helped write the history of feminist art. Her works on celluloid are considered among the most extensive representations of lesbian identity, love, and sexuality. In more than eighty films, she increased the visibility of women and encouraged them to choose self-determined lives.
Born in Hollywood in 1939, the feminist activist picked up the camera in 1968 to propose alternative visions that sharply contrasted with the prevailing filmic languages, in which a male and heterosexual gaze predominated. She often broke new ground both with her themes and narrative forms and in her aesthetic experiments. Over five decades, her art has continually surprised fans and—no doubt deliberately—defied social clichés and conventions.
Hammer’s experimental films are noted for their physical presence and painterly quality. Her works on paper as well as her photos share this characteristic sensual and sometimes expressive style. The exhibition highlights how her first steps as an artist stem from her physical perception of space and relationships. Her camera gaze seems to literally touch the environment, inseparable from her body and its experiences, while her paint brush and her pencil are unafraid to discern the surface of the paper as a field of action and mental and formal discovery.