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Queer Visual Culture
London's Tate Modern Presents Retrospective of the Films of Barbara Hammer
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/21/12
Last updated on: 01/24/12
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A promotional image for "Barbara Hammer: The Fearless Frame."

In February 2012, London's Tate Modern presents a major survey of the films of Barbara Hammer. "Barbara Hammer: The Fearless Frame" will include screenings of early, rarely seen Super-8 films, an evening of free expanded cinema performances in the Turbine Hall, an event in response to Hammer's work by artist Emily Roysdon, and several events featuring artists and speakers drawn from across Europe and North America, who testify to the powerful creative community Hammer has inspired.

The survey will be launched with a premiere of Hammer's new short film, Maya Deren's Sink (2011), a tribute to Deren's longstanding influence on the artist.

"Barbara Hammer: The Fearless Frame" opens on February 3, 2012 and concludes on February 26.

Hammer, who was born in Hollywood, California, in 1939, is the most prolific lesbian feminist filmmaker in the history of cinema.

She created her first film in 1967, Schizy, about her own coming-out process. She is best known for her experimental, nonlinear narratives, which are often lyrical and erotic.

As Gary Morris has noted in his glbtq.com entry on her, Hammer "can be said to have constructed, in what she has called her 'alternative autobiographies,' an alternative lesbian gaze."

Her most famous work is probably Nitrate Kisses (1992), which may be seen as an attempt to restore a lost queer history by intermingling images of lesbian and gay male lovemaking with aural and visual collages of concentration camps, the Hollywood Hays Code that banned "perversion," and snippets from what is often regarded as the first queer film made in the United States, Lot in Sodom (1933) by James Watson and Melville Weber.

Here is a brief clip from Nitrate Kisses.

Hammer's films are of crucial importance to a new generation of artists exploring new modes of experimenting with the moving image.

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