The male gaze was a concept long before it was penned into existence by feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey in her explosive 1975-published essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema which questioned the relationship between film and gender equality.
Around the same time that Laura Mulvey was writing Visual Pleasure, filmmaker Barbara Hammer was busy ruffling the plumbs of the patriarchy in her own way, first by coming out as a lesbian, leaving her marriage and reportedly “[taking] off on a motorcycle with a Super-8 camera”.
In 1974, Barbara Hammer graduated from San Francisco State University with a masters in film and set about filming Sisters! and Dyketatics. Among the first examples of feminist and lesbian cinema, Hammer’s films reclaimed the lesbian experience from the hands — and leering eyes — of male artists and filmmakers.
Though the ‘70s, Barbara toured the US, Europe and Africa, intent on exploring female sexuality through filmmaking and photography. While the former can be viewed in museums such as MoMA, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Australian Center for the Moving Image, or at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art where she is currently showing retrospective Evidentiary Bodies until the end of this month, the latter have now been published in a book. Truant: Photographs, 1970-1979 is a tender, intimate photographic portrait of a near decade of Barbara’s travels and the women she met along the way.
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