Barbara Hammer

Lesbian Whale: Early Drawings and Paintings

September 13 - October 11

Opening Reception: September 13, 6 - 8pm

Press: AdultArtforumArt F City, Paris ReviewMousse

Tuesday [1969]


i lay where the wind blew over me

where the mists from the sea met the blue

i saw my stained glass self in Mission Dolores

St. Barbara with a bouquet of Swords

and rays streaming from her

plain glass head.

i saw the bronze wreath with which she would crown me

in golden gate fields

and one sword in her hand.

i took my eyes from my wallet where i carry them.

they are heavy-lidded and searching

i have cut off my nose and my brow

to see

the shadow below in the bags are the knocks since

year thirty. to thirty five.                 fatigue

there is a notch at the top of the nose of in the lower brow

of fatigue, perplexion, overwhelming understanding

serious yellow complexion of brow

the eyes are serious with a touch of naiveté

i can remember at thirty I promised myself promising myself then

i wouldn’t know where I’d be at thirty five

in Los Altos                                   ^ what I’d be doing at 35.

i was 50 miles away from here then    Well here i am.

an adulterous wife

living with a classics professor

who demanded i leave when he learned i’d slept with his


well here i am telling you all this now.    It’s abound

i am learning to see                                       At 40 I want to be

i carry my camera to record my vision      planting in a cornfield

in this time of transition                                    and seeing the corn

transmission                          not me.

transduction                                          seeing the corn.

St. Barbara twice

and feather tree top brows waving

a jet, a jet, a jet flies over

i am not propelling it

my eyes, nitrate silver defined

blow away from me

i have looked. i catch them. put them away and sleep.




Barbara Hammer’s Lesbian Whale: Early Drawings and Paintings presents previously unseen works on paper from 1968 to 1970 alongside her first five films, all of which were made between 1968 and 1972. Hammer also completed a new film that animates her early notebooks with voiceover commentary by friends and peers. These previously unseen drawings and paintings were made at a crucial turning point in Hammer’s early career, both before and after she left her husband to pursue a career in art and film. In these works, the first seeds of Hammer’s later film and performance works emerge alongside self-portraits, sketches, notes on future films, and drawings of the world around her.


Barbara Hammer is a pioneering experimental filmmaker who has worked across disciplines. She has had retrospectives at the Jeu de Palme (Paris), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Tate Modern, and Toronto Film Festival. A retrospective of her work is forthcoming at the Pink Life Queer Festival in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey. Her work was included in the 1985, 1989, and 1993 Whitney Biennials and her work is included in the permanent collections of the Australian Center for the Moving Image, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Centre Georges Pompidou, and elsewhere. She is the author of Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life (Feminist Press 2009). She is a professor at the European Graduate School. She lives and works in New York City and Kerhonkson, New York.