The BARBARA HAMMER LESBIAN EXPERIMENTAL FILMMAKING GRANT is an annual grant that will be awarded to self-identified lesbians for making visionary moving-image art.
The Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant is an annual grant that will be awarded to self-identified lesbians for making visionary moving-image art. Work can be experimental animation, experimental documentary, experimental narrative, cross-genre, or solely experimental. Applicants must be based in the U.S. This grant was established by Hammer in 2017 to give needed support to moving-image art made by lesbians. The grant is supported directly by funds provided by Hammer and administered through Queer|Art by lesbians for lesbians, with a rotating panel of judges. As of 2019, the grant is $6000.
“It has been the goal of my life to put a lesbian lifestyle on the screen. Why? Because when I started I couldn’t find any! ...I picked up a camera in the 60s, late 60s, made Super 8, 8mm, finally went to school and got a 16mm camera. Made 13 films in two and a half years. All experimental. Because I think that as a lesbian at that time I was living an experimental lifestyle. Well let’s just say, I was experimenting. And I still am. And I think that lesbian film really calls out for experimental work. ...Working as a lesbian filmmaker in the 70s wasn’t easy in the social structure — the educational institution that I was in. It was difficult. And I want this grant to make it easier for lesbians of today. So you can make work that you want to make.”
— Barbara Hammer
2018 Barbara Hammer Grant
Winner Announced at Special Edition
Last night, a full house packed the main theater at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village to celebrate New York-based filmmaker and multi-disciplinary artist Miatta Kawinzi, who was announced by New York City-based non-profit Queer|Art as the winner of the second annual Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant. Kawinzi will receive a $5,000 cash grant to support the making of a new film installation: “SHE GATHER ME”.
The grant award was announced during a special edition of the acclaimed screening series Queer|Art|Film, organized by Hammer Grant Manager, Vanessa Haroutunian, to recognize some of the many women experimental filmmakers who have been influenced and inspired by Hammer’s prolific career. The evening began with a special tribute to Hammer by Haroutunian and Hammer's longtime partner, Florrie Burke. They then invited the judges for this year’s grant—Carmel Curtis, Cecilia Dougherty, and Ayanna U’Dongo—to announce the winner.
Kawinzi was one of 94 applicants who applied for the Hammer grant in its second year. “SHE GATHER ME” will combine analog and digital film and video, abstracted soundscapes, and sculptural elements in an installation to reflect on the idea of frequency from different vantage points: as material, as energy, and as containing a transformative potential in the face on ongoing societal discord.
Kawinzi has recently been creating sculptural sound and video installations that explore and question themes of selfhood, diaspora, and belonging. With a poetic import, her work incorporates performative elements and proposes techniques of experimentation as a means to imagine the body, social structures, and social relations differently. In her work, she thinks through the politics of temporality and alternative ways of navigating time.
Five other women were acknowledged as finalists for this year—Kim Anno, Erica Cho, Kimberlee Veneble, and collaborators Anna Burholt & Tandis Shoushtray. After the awarding of the grant, Haroutunian presented a selection of short experimental films made by women who have been inspired by Hammer and career. The screening, entitled “The Hammer Mix: Generations,” included works by some of the avant-garde’s most dynamic filmmakers—Peggy Ahwesh, A.K. Burns, Cheryl Dunye, Dani Leventhal ReStack, Lynne Sachs, and Cauleen Smith—and their work was paired with Hammer’s selected film entitled Still Point. Haroutunian and special guests Peggy Ahwesh and Lynne Sachs took the stage after the screening to engage in a conversation about the films and the artists’ influence from Hammer. Hammer wrote about the program, “I am honored to have inspired these genius filmmakers. It truly amazes me for when you are young and working hard you just think about getting the work out. Then to find years later that your films meant a whole lot to certain artists, these and others, just takes your breath away. I am delighted to have their selected works gathered together for tonight's program.”
2018 HAMMER GRANT WINNER
Miatta Kawinzi is a NY-based filmmaker and multi-disciplinary artist who works with images, objects, sound, space, the body, and language. She explores the figure, the inner & outer landscape, and culture as sites of re-imagination & possibility. Exhibition/screening sites of her work include BRIC, A.I.R. Gallery, Anthology Film Archives, and the Studio Museum in Harlem (NY); Aljira Center for Contemporary Art (NJ); and the FNB Joburg Art Fair (South Africa). Kawinzi received a BA in Interdisciplinary Art & Cultural Theory from Hampshire College and an MFA in Studio Art from Hunter College. She has been awarded artist residencies at spaces including the Cité internationale des arts (Paris, France, with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), the Bag Factory (Johannesburg, South Africa), and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE).
About “SHE GATHER ME” by Miatta Kawinzi
This piece—currently titled “SHE GATHER ME” after a line from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved—will result in an experimental installation and film that combines analog & digital film and video, abstracted soundscapes, and sculptural elements to reflect on the idea of frequency from different vantage points: as material, as energy, and as containing a transformative potential in the face of ongoing societal discord.
Through this work, Kawinzi will explore the language of bodily gesture as an alternative form of communication that can tap into alternative forms of knowledge, drawing on Sara Ahmed’s “Queer Phenomenology” and thinking through ways in which experimenting with visual orientation can open pathways for non-normative thought. The piece will concurrently explore the ability of sound and vocalization to express emotion both verbally and non-verbally.
Through the use of 16mm film and HD video, combined with recorded personal vocalization and environmental sounds, “SHE GATHER ME” will propose techniques of experimentation as a means to imagine the body, social structures, and social relations differently. With the use of older and newer forms of technology, Kawinzi will think through the politics of temporality and alternative ways of navigating time and explore the ways in which questions of bodily autonomy, the navigation of space, and the ability to feel held (rather than conquered) by time are issues conflated by histories/presences of oppression and resistance. The work will also explore the way in which experimental film/video can encourage imaginative approaches to re-connecting the mind and body and finding spaces of agency and possibility in the face of domination and restriction; in also locating spaces of tenderness and care to sustain the self/community.
View an excerpt of Miatta Kawinzi’s film sweat/tears/sea below:
2018 HAMMER GRANT FINALISTS
For 90 Miles From Paradise, an experimental film about Key West and Havana, two struggling cities grappling changed fisheries and land masses as climate change’s new reality sets in.
Anna Burholt & Tandis Shoushtray
For a non-narrative animation exploring the intersection between borders and queer identity, by interweaving voices and anecdotes of woman-aligned queer Iranian refugees.
For BEAUTIFUL STORIES, a trilogy of narrative short films that traces the lives of a Korean immigrant nurse and her queer, Gen-X daughter across three moments of American history —1969, 1977, and 1987.
For Mississippi Gold, an installation using footage of land that has been in her family for over a century to re-contextualize the history of trauma embedded in the soil in order to begin a new narrative.
2018 HAMMER GRANT JUDGES
Carmel Curtis is a moving image archivist and curator. Over the past decade, she has been committed to increasing access to film and video by supporting viewing of diverse media to diverse audiences. Carmel currently works in the Moving Image Archive of Indiana University; is a board member of the non-profit Screen Slate, a daily resource for independent, repertory, and gallery screenings in New York City; and is a is a proud member of XFR Collective (pronounced transfer collective), a volunteer run group that works to increase community access to at-risk audiovisual media.
Cecilia Dougherty is a video artist, photographer, and writer. She has screened and exhibited her work in numerous film festivals, galleries and museums internationally for over twenty-five years. Her videos are included in many university and private film collections and are archived at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. In addition to explorations in electronic media itself, her themes range from lesbian and female sexual identity to family psychologies and the outsider experience of popular culture. She has contributed articles, interviews, and other writing to a wide range of publications from chapbooks to contemporary art periodicals. Much of her writing is about film, video, and the contemporary cultural moment. She has published poetry and short stories as well. Her first book, The Irreducible I: Space, Place, Authenticity, and Change, was published in 2013. She is currently writing a feature film script based on the award-winning novel Zipper Mouth by Laurie Weeks. She holds a PhD in Media Philosophy and teaches filmmaking at the College of Staten Island, CUNY and media theory at the New School University.
Ayanna U’Dongo has utilized video to explore desire, self-pleasuring, sexual independence, sexuality, and gender diversity in post-slavery America since 1992. Edges; MoonSong of the Nubiánts; Passion/Fruits & Whisperings; Lypsus Rising and Aborigitron: Affairs of the Hybrid Heart were her earlier video works. Her photography has been published in Instinct and Out magazines. Last April, Dirty Looks published her essay entitled, “MorphallaxUS: Nubiánt Power and Sexual Healings.” Nubiánt Lounge is an African/American erotic arts magazine currently in development for public access television. She occupies a newly established digital arts studio, ABORIGIX MEDIARTS LAB in Hunters Point, San Francisco. The Lab is designed to elevate, explore, and celebrate the beauty, power, and potential of the African/American sexuality and gender experience.