Body Politics: Two new works by Barbara Hammer at REDCAT 

Thursday, Jan 20 2011

"Please walk, do not run while entering or exiting the merry-go-round," says a voice in Barbara Hammer's new film, Generations. "Hold on ... the ride is about to start!"

It's quite a ride. At 71, four years after a bout with cancer, the avant-garde Queer Cinema pioneer has never been more alive, with a retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art and London's Tate Modern, and a memoir, Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life. Hammer's visually lush, authentic, raw films (e.g., Multiple Orgasm, 1976) helped make gay women visible in cinema.

This sensate force drives her richly poetic and layered films, two of which Hammer will present Monday at REDCAT: the West Coast premiere of Generations and the L.A. premiere of A Horse Is Not a Metaphor, a Teddy Award winner at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival.

click to enlarge 5881172.t.jpg

Location Info

Related Stories

A collaboration with Gina Carducci (Stone Welcome Mat, 2003), Generations is a passing on of craft. Influenced by Shirley Clarke's 1958 experimental film Bridges Go Round, the artists combined and manipulated footage from Coney Island's soon-to-be-demolished Astroland. What results is a celebration of the transient: history as moving target, mirrored architectural memory and the decay of the film medium itself.

It's also a rebirth. The merry-go-round repeats, the film reels again and again through the projector, the artists cast shadows on the sandy shore and the screen. This is painterly work, dislocating familiar imagery in an abstract landscape, a spacewalk into a past continually renewed with possibility.

A Horse Is Not a Metaphor re-creates Hammer's fight with ovarian cancer. With a haunting, visceral Meredith Monk score, Hammer's nonlinear, multilayered imagery takes you from fragility to vibrant hope. She lies in bed, hooked by tubes to bags of poison. X-ray skeletons move and twirl. She walks naked in the woods, "a bald ghost of myself." At last, she's in remission, triumphant on horseback near Georgia O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch. She superimposes her eye on the horse's eye, which blinks and reflects Hammer with a camera — another reflecting eye. Her short post-chemo hair compares with close-ups of horse hair, and superimposed marks akin to Cy Twombly.

Hammer's reality is hyperreal, amplified in a druggy way. Her intense, saturated color palette can be quaintly psychedelic, but you can't escape the forced intimacy of her immersive experience. This is a film of firm authority, making the moment felt, the body inhabited.

BARBARA HAMMER: EXPERIMENTING IN LIFE AND ART | REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., dwntwn. | Jan. 24, 8:30 p.m. | redcat.org

Reach the writer at vellison01@earthlink.net

Related Content

Related Locations

Now Showing

  1. Fri 1
  2. Sat 2
  3. Sun 3
  4. Mon 4
  5. Tue 5
  6. Wed 6
  7. Thu 7

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!


  • Emmy-Nominated Costumes on Display
    On Saturday, the Television Academy and FIDM Museum and Galleries kicked off the Eighth Annual exhibition of "The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" with an exclusive preview and reception party. 100 costumes are featured from over 20 shows representing the nominees of the 66th Emmy Awards. The free to the public exhibition is located downtown at FIDM and runs from today through Saturday, September 20th. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.
  • Are Westerns For The Weak? Not According to "Sensei" Martin Kove
    Decades ago, the western film was king, with nearly 100 produced every year at their peak in the 1940s, and their popularity extending years beyond. But today, other than rare successes like Django Unchained or True Grit, the genre is not in great shape. Films such as Cowboys and Aliens and The Lone Ranger failed to spark new interests in the western. It's a tough nut to crack, but veteran movie bad guy Martin Kove -- most well known for his role as Sensei John Kreese in The Karate Kid -- is passionate about the classic American film genre and is trying to revive it. We spent an afternoon at his home talking about westerns and how to make the genre interesting again. All photos by Jared Cowan.

Now Trending