Light Industry presents a double-bill of sapphic autoethnography from the 1980s, featuring work by pioneering lesbian artists Barbara Hammer and Cecilia Dougherty.
Barbara Hammer’s Audience is a fascinating deep cut from the director’s prodigious filmography. Relatively raw in its design, this 16mm diary of audience reactions at retrospectives of Hammer’s work in San Francisco, London, Toronto, and Montreal in the early 1980s bears none of the distinctive visual flourishes and essayistic form one usually finds in her filmmaking. Instead, it comes closer to the original ideal of cinéma vérité as seen in Chronicle of a Summer; informed by the consciousness-raising groups of the feminist movement, the artist herself acts as a catalyst for discussion, rather than fly-on-the-wall observer. Today, Audience serves as an invaluable historical archive, providing quick but complex portraits of lesbian scenes in different cities and countries: the San Francisco women are bold and raucous, treating Hammer like a celebrity; the London crowd more reserved and tentative; the Canadians politely critical after initial hesitation. It also functions as a testament to the power of Hammer herself as a figure in lesbian culture, showing how fully she engages audiences to incite new forms of discourse about representation.