Evidentiary Bodies

2018, 9:30 min, color, sound, three-channel HD video

"Evidence, broadly construed, is anything presented in support of an assertion.

"In these horrific times when lies are blatantly exclaimed as truths, when fear makes us withdraw from each other, when difference is maligned as xenophobia, and when atrocities are committed in the name of spectacle, we must find and practice a quiet way of compassion, sympathy, and generosity through empathy.

"As a child and teenager in the years before going to college, I thought there must be some way we could understand the other person completely. Some way we could go inside our neighbor and feel as she feels, think as he thinks, know as they know. I thought there might be some medical hookup where fluids, innards could be exchanged. Where was feeling located anyway? We speak of the heart, the stomach, but isn’t it the brain? We are instructed to 'open our hearts' but shouldn’t we 'open our brains'?

"In any case, no matter what we open, I have found no way to completely understand the 'other' or be understood by another. I have resorted to film, moving images, and sound as the best path for me to make myself open, vulnerable, giving, sharing, and, yes, unique to my friends and fellow filmmakers, my artist colleagues, and those who love and appreciate creative and experimental making the world over.

"I still long for that most intimate of sharing and although I can't crawl inside my lover's skin and experience her from the inside out, I can practice an empathetic listening, repeating back what I have heard and learned, sympathetically embracing 'otherness' and difference. Through this 'domestic' practice I extend these tools to the audience through performance in film. This places the work and the viewer in a new relationship in which the spatial field of the screen is expanded through exhalation and collapsed through inhalation. The work is experienced and perceived through the performer’s body as we breathe together remembering that cancer is not a 'battle,' cancer is a disease. There are aberrant cells not 'deadly foes.' She is not 'combative' and 'brave,' she is living with cancer. She is not going to win or lose her 'battle.' She is not a 'survivor,' she is living with cancer. There is not a 'war' on cancer; there is concentrated research.

"This could be empathy." — Barbara Hammer

Producer/Director/Editor: Barbara Hammer. Cinematography: Angel Favorite. Music: Norman Scott Johnson. Sound Processing: David Lawrence Goldman. Sound Editing/Composition: Barbara Hammer. Final Edit/Sound Mix: Paul Hill. Thanks to The Wexner Center for the Arts, Artist Residency.


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