About the Exhibition: Bringing together both known and previously unseen works of film and video, installations, works on paper, and material from her archive, this exhibition addresses critical themes that appear in Barbara Hammer’s work, including: lesbian representation, subjectivity and sexuality; intimacy and sensation; and conditions and maintenance of life and illness.
In making Sanctus I was concerned about the contradictory qualities of beauty and danger of the images that were made by radiation. I delighted in the imagery and at the same time I imagined the deleterious effects of the image making on the subjects. This was my dilemma in making the film and continues until today. I rely on the viewers’ intuition of a foreboding, a sense of ambivalence, an unsteady non-homogenous emotive state, a not-knowing.
WELCOME TO THIS HOUSE, A FILM ABOUT ELIZABETH BISHOP
DIRECTOR : Barbara Hammer
Poet Elizabeth Bishop has gained notoriety as much for her tempestuous romance with Lota de Macedo Soares as for her poetry. While that affair inspired a book and a movie (Reaching for the Moon, Frameline37), this new documentary broadens the focus and puts the Lota affair in context. Frameline24 Award recipient Barbara Hammer (whose previous films at Frameline are too numerous to list!) creates a layered portrait of the person behind the poet, from her childhood in Nova Scotia to her death in 1979.
Bishop described herself as “timorously kicking around the coastlines of the world,” and the film is loosely organized around her stays in Nova Scotia, Key West, Brazil, and Cambridge—the homes she made for herself and the lovers she took. Never “out” as a lesbian—the concept would have been foreign to the writer who graduated from Vassar in the thirties—Bishop nonetheless actively pursued women, from her first summer-camp crush to the May-December romance that was her last affair.
Hammer examines Bishop from all angles, interviewing everyone from literary luminaries like Marie-Claire Blais and Edmund White to Lota’s aged former maid. Hammer pulls the viewer into Bishop’s world, blending present day footage of each location with archival photos, and recreating moments in the writer’s life. Throughout the film we hear Bishop’s own words, read by Kathleen Chalfant, revealing yet another facet of a complicated and passionate woman.
American Originals Now: Barbara Hammer June 20 – 28
Barbara Hammer (b. 1939) has been making groundbreaking films for more than forty years. Often hailed as the creator of the queer cinema genre, and committed to the portrayal of the untold histories of women, Hammer has presented retrospectives of her work internationally, most recently at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Jeu de Paume, Paris; and the Toronto International Film Festival.
Maya Deren’s Sink followed by Generations Saturday, June 20, at 2:30 p.m. 2011, 30 minutes; 2010, in collaboration with Gina Carducci, 30 minutes West Building Lecture Hall
Resisting Paradise Sunday, June 21, at 4:00 p.m. 2003, 80 minutes West Building Lecture Hall
My Babushka: Searching Ukrainian Identities preceded by Diving Women of Jeju-Do Saturday, June 27, at 3:00 p.m. 2007, 25 minutes; 2001, 53 minutes West Building Lecture Hall
Lover/Other preceded by Tender Fictions Sunday, June 28, at 4:00 p.m. 1995, 58 minutes; 2006, 55 minutes
Barbara Hammer in person West Building Lecture Hall
With her latest work, Barbara Hammer, who is known for films about lesbian life, history, and sexuality that draw upon avant-garde tradition, examines the little-known aspects of the life of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979). Hammer’s film, shown here in its New York premiere, explores Bishop’s inner life through some of the homes in which she lived and wrote—from childhood to her final days—and through the more private and sensorial poems that were published after her death. Featuring music composed and performed by the experimental singer and musician Joan La Barbara; Bishop’s intimate poems read by Kathleen Chalfont; three actors representing Bishop’s physical presence at different stages of her life; and interviews by historians, poets, and students, Welcome to This House sensitively portrays a complex, private, and challenging writer whose poetry continues to inspire.
Organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.
Barbara Hammer’s WELCOME TO THIS HOUSE: A FILM ON ELIZABETH BISHOP
We are proud to announce that acclaimed director Barbara Hammer will be world premiering her new film on poet Elizabeth Bishop at the 31st Annual Boston LGBT Film Festival!
WELCOME TO THIS HOUSE (2015) is a feature documentary film on the homes and loves of poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), about life in the shadows, and the anxiety of art making without full self-disclosure. Hammer filmed in Bishop’s ‘best loved homes’ in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil believing that buildings and landscapes bear cultural memories. Interviews with poets, friends, and scholars provide “missing documents” of numerous female lovers. Bishop’s intimate poetry is beautifully performed by Kathleen Chalfant and with the creative music composition by Joan La Barbara brings Bishop into our lives with new ways and unexpected details
Welcome To This House (2015) HD, 79 minutes, col/sd
Welcome To This House (2015) is a feature documentary film on the homes and loves of poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), about life in the shadows, and the anxiety of art making without full self-disclosure. Hammer filmed in Bishop’s ‘best loved homes’ in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil believing that buildings and landscapes bear cultural memories. Interviews with poets, friends, and scholars provide “missing documents” of numerous female lovers. Bishop’s intimate poetry is beautifully performed by Kathleen Chalfant and with the creative music composition by Joan La Barbara brings Bishop into our lives with new ways and unexpected details.
Welcome to This House(projected completion date 2014–15) is a feature-length essay documentary film about a great Modernist poet, Elizabeth Bishop, and her homes, life in the shadows, and the anxiety of art making without full self‐ disclosure.
The Guggenheim Foundation awarded Hammer a 2013 Fellowship in support of Welcome to This House.