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Endangered

Barbara Hammer

USA, 1988
18 minutes, B&W, sound
Available formats: 16mm

The Peruvian Galapagos Islands feature in Hammer’s most recent film Endangered, where Blue-footed Boobies, seals and iguanas are equated with the filmmaker herself who identifies light, life and the genre of experimental film to be threatened with extinction in this late twentieth century. Every image is marked and cancelled before it disappears. Even the emulsion of the film is treated with acid showing its fragility. The film is a highly effective compilation of image, colour and sound building upon each other, slowly heightening the sense of urgency. Against this mood there is a reassuring image of a silhouetted woman working at the film projector. A strong, competent, fearless woman. Woman documenting, warning, saving.
sound composition: Helen Thorington
“It is against the background of these debates (the demise of avant garde film) that BARBARA HAMMER made Endangered, a reflection on the threatened tradition of filmmaking and the independent filmmaker. Hammer’s formal invention and manipulation of film through post production effects created by optical printing become means for developing new filmic metaphors. Endangered is a compelling expression of the unique power of celluloid and the filmmaking process. Hammer does not hide behind the process of filmmaking – in Endangered we see her making the film. In her hands, the transformation of film into a poetic and avant garde art form comes about through the direct manipulation of celluloid.” – John Hanhardt, 1989 Whitney Museum Exhibition Catalogue.