This essay analyzes Barbara Hammer's 1974 experimental nonfiction film Jane Brakhage. Both an homage and a rebuttal to the many films of Jane Brakhage made by her husband, Stan Brakhage, Hammer's film gives Jane the voice she never had in Stan's work. The article contextualizes Jane Brakhage's production at a moment when competing strands of feminist thought took different approaches to the fraught topic of nature. Hammer's films were criticized as essentialist by feminists in the 1980s, but this essay argues that Jane Brakhage complicates that reading of Hammer's work. The film documents Jane's creative life in the mountains, but critiques the limitations of her role as a heterosexual wife and mother. By locating this short film within a larger genealogy of feminist and environmental thought, we can better appreciate the extent to which Hammer's films explore the feminist and queer potential of nature.
Barbara Hammer's Jane Brakhage: Feminism, Nature, and 1970s Experimental Film
Jennifer Peterson is the author of Education in the School of Dreams: Travelogues and Early Nonfiction Film (Duke University Press, 2013). Her articles have been published in Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Camera Obscura, The Moving Image, Getty Research Journal, and numerous edited collections. She has published film, art, and book reviews in Millennium Film Journal, Film Quarterly, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Artforum.com. She is currently a professor and chair of the Communication department at Woodbury University in Los Angeles.
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Jennifer Peterson; Barbara Hammer's Jane Brakhage: Feminism, Nature, and 1970s Experimental Film. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2020; 6 (2): 67–94. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2020.6.2.67
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