BARBARA HAMMER: Evidentiary Bodies
October 7, 2017 – January 28, 2018
Curated by Staci Bu Shea and Carmel Curtis
Barbara Hammer: Evidentiary Bodies is a multifaceted exhibition-project that delves into the life’s work and resonating impact of lesbian feminist artist and filmmaker Barbara Hammer. Revolving around a retrospective at Leslie Lohman Museum for Gay & Lesbian Art, Evidentiary Bodies as a project encompasses exhibitions, a publication, performances, readings, and an extensive film program at various locations across New York City.
Known to most as a pioneer in queer cinema, this occasion marks the first where a large breadth of Hammer’s work can be witnessed and studied side-by-side. The exhibition at Leslie Lohman brings together both known and previously unseen films, videos, paintings, drawings, collages, installations, and archival presentations to foreground resonating themes and qualities within Hammer’s ongoing practice. Encompassing matters of lesbian subjectivity and sexuality, politics and representation, and visceral manifestations of pleasure and discomfort, Evidentiary Bodies tells a story of the relations, imprints, and textures that continue to shape Hammer’s oeuvre since the 1960s.
The exhibition-project is titled after Hammer’s most recent performance in New York City that calls attention to our interdependency with material and immaterial surroundings—including the influence of other bodies—that inform states of being and a sense of self. Pointing to this latest performance while engaging her earlier works is a way to examine Hammer’s thematic lineage and material experimentation over the course of five decades. Collapsing the past and present, activism and intimacy can be read as passionate, steadfast, and intergenerational forces within Hammer’s generative process.
This moment illuminates a turning point in Hammer’s career at a time when an excavation of her work is becoming increasingly possible. With recent archival and research efforts focused on long-term preservation and accessibility, this exhibition is a beginning and functions as an invitation to explore, learn from, and build upon Hammer’s legacy within queer art history.
In January 2018, Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art will release an exhibition catalogue for Barbara Hammer: Evidentiary Bodies, edited by the curators and including contributions from Rizvana Bradley, Florrie Burke, Joey Carducci, Ann Cvetkovich, Janlori Goldman, Ronald Gregg, Jamillah James, Krystyna Mazur, David Napier, Domitilla Olivieri, Mark Toscano, and Greg Youmans.
Alongside this exhibition will be a multi-faceted program, including an exhibition of the artist’s photographs from the 1970s at Company Gallery, as well as performances, readings and screenings at various locations across New York City. Participating venues and partners include The Academy Film Archive, Anthology Film Archive, Electronic Arts Intermix, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Japan Society, The Knockdown Center, Lesbian Herstory Archive, Metrograph, Museum of the Moving Image, Participant Inc, Queer|Arts, Visual AIDS, The Whitney, XFR Collective, and more to be announced.
Barbara Hammer (b. 1939) is an American feminist artist known as a pioneer in experimental film. She has had film retrospectives at the Jeu de Palme (Paris), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Tate Modern, National Gallery of Art (DC), Kunsthall (Oslo, Norway), Toronto Film Festival, and Pink Life Queer Festival (Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey). Her work was included in the 1985, 1989, and 1993 Whitney Biennials and is included in the permanent collections of the Australian Center for the Moving Image, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Centre Georges Pompidou, and elsewhere. She is the author of Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life (Feminist Press 2009). She holds a Masters in Literature (1963) and a Masters in Film (1975) from San Francisco State University in California. She lives and works in New York City and Kerhonkson, New York.
image: Barbara Hammer, Double Strength (still), 1978, 16mm film transferred to digital video. Courtesy of the artist and KOW, Berlin.