Barbara Hammer was born on May 15, 1939 in Hollywood, California. She is a visual artist working primarily in film and video and has made over 80 works in a career that spans 30 years. She is considered a pioneer of queer cinema. She recently had a Tribute Retrospective at the Chinese Cultural University in Taiwan where she also led a workshop “Strategic Planning for Film/Video Artists.”
Her experimental films of the 1970’s often dealt with taboo subjects such as menstruation, female orgasm and lesbian sexuality. In the 80’s she used optical printing to explore perception and the fragility of 16mm film life itself. Optic Nerve (1985) and Endangered (1988) were selected for the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennials (’85,’89). Her documentaries tell the stories of marginalized peoples who have been hidden from history and are often essay films that are multi-leveled and engage audiences viscerally and intellectually with the goal of activating them to make social change. Nitrate Kisses (1992) was chosen for the 1993 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial.
Hammer was a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Fall 2005 at the Bratislava Academy of Art and Design, Slovakia; she received the first Shirley Clarke Avant-Garde Filmmaker Award in October 2006 and the Women In Film Award 2006 from the St. Louis International Film Festival. In February 2007, she was awarded a tribute and retrospective at the Chinese Cultural University Digital Imaging Center in Taipei, Taiwan sponsored by Women Make Waves Film Festival. In April, 2008, Diving Women of Jeju-do premiered at the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival where Hammer presented followed by a trip to Beijing where she showed her 1970 lesbian films to a Feminist Seminar and a new LGTQI Center.