Julia Stoschek Collection


Barbara Hammer
1990 / 16mm film transferred to video / b/w & colour / sound

Outsized skeletons flicker across the screen. For her work “Sanctus” (1990), the experimental filmmaker and feminist activist Barbara Hammer sets x-ray radiographs in motion and creates a kinetic theatre that alternates between humour and tragedy.

The X-ray image of a human head turned to the side. The person brings the mouthpiece of a wind instrument to his mouth.

Barbara Hammer, Sanctus, 1990. 16mm film transferred to video, 18'18", b/w & colour, sound. Sound by Neil B. Rolnick

Courtesy of the artist and Creative Vitamine Space, Guangzhou. On loan from the JULIA STOSCHEK FOUNDATION, Berlin/Düsseldorf

  • 18 min 18 sec

Is it a sacred dance of death or a dissection of the human body to its elementary components? For her work “Sanctus” Barbara Hammer drew on archival x-ray images made in the 1950s by Dr. James Sibley Watson. In his experiments with film, Watson took x-rays of predominantly female bodies in motion. Hammer heightens the kinetic drama by making collages of the archival footage, cutting it, painting over it, and even burning it, thereby giving the test subjects their sensual presence back.