Barbara Hammer Characteristics




Barbara Hammer (1939 - ) is an artist in the field of experimental films, as well as an activist in the gay and lesbian community, and she is known for being the most creative lesbian filmmaker in the world. In the past 31 years that Barbara Hammer has been making films she has created over 77 films. Hammer is known for using various formats ranging from short to feature films, hand painted to scratch films, the use of the optical printer, and computer generated films.

Barbara Hammer is known for creating films dealing with womenıs issues on gender roles, lesbian relationships and coping with aging and family. She is best known for her film Nitrate Kisses, which fearlessly broke two taboos by showing older lesbians in extended erotic embrace, all in richly detailed black and white. (Morris, 1996) This film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary in 1993 in addition to many others. One of her goals was to create an autobiography of herself before anyone else did and that is exactly what she did in the film Tender Fictions. Tender Fictions is a playful, imaginative, penetrating description of an artistıs life. (Morris, 1996) Tender Fictions is a great example of Hammerıs techniques and use of film. This film is combined of scratchy home movies, snapshots, overdubs from academic texts, interviews, skewed television programs, reminiscences of Hammer, family and friends, and a string of ex-girlfriends. (Morris, 1996) Hammer is known for using various formats ranging from short to feature films, hand painted to scratch films, the use of the optical printer and computer generated films. (Dacey, 2000) In the year 2000 she made her first digital video documentary titled Devotion. This documentary deals with the historical investigation of a Japanese documentary film making collective.

In 2001 Barbara Hammer created one of her most criticized films, History Lessons. Critics say, ³Thereıs good news and bad news about Barbara Hammerıs History Lessons. The good news is the film is full of hot lesbian chicks², states critic Merle Bertrand. ³The bad news is, most of these chicks are long since dead.² Bertrand states, ³It lacks a central driving theme and one tends to tune out the film after a while, even if it is hot lesbian chicks.² After watching some of Hammerıs work all student Susan Ryan-Vollmar had to say was ³I donıt get Barbara Hammerıs work. There are parts that simply donıt make sense. Iım sorry, I just donıt get it.² (Vollmar, 1997) But there are people that do understand her work. Her films are analyzed and studied in film schools every day.

--Jaime Rodrigue, 2003

Barbara Hammer