Barbara Hammer – Maya Derin’s Sink and the Diving Women of JeJu-Du

Barbara Hammer

Barbara Hammer, who was recently honored by a major retrospective at Tate Modern in London and a retrospective at MoMA in 2010, will be present for the screening of two of her films followed by Q&A with the film maker.


Saturday, June 30th, 2012 at 5 pm  $10 ($7 WAAM members)

 Maya Derin’s Sink

Maya Deren’s Sink:  A tribute to the mother of avant garde American film, as recounted by those who knew her, Teiji Ito’s family, Carolee Schneemann and Judith Malvina.  Clips from Deren’s films are projected back into the spaces where they were originally filmed, appearing on the floorboards, furniture and in the bowl of her former sink.  As “the walls speak” Deren lives again in this evocative documentary film.

Quotes: Barbara Hammer and Maya Deren’s Sink

“Hammer’s intense productivity places her on the scale of Brakhage or Warhol as a major force in the independent cinema; Hammer neatly inverts the patriarchal forces implicitly and often ‘invisibly’ at work in independent cinema practice.” – Wheeler Winston Dixon, The Exploding Eye, A Re- Visionary History of 1960s American Experimental Cinema 

I like the ghosting of Deren — very lovely.

Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film
The Museum of Modern Art

As a Deren fan, I appreciate the additional insight the film brings to her as a total artist, and the playful way in which it does so. The aura of ‘things ‘is also prescient  today, with our rampant disposal of objects and focus on newness. These impressions linger with me after I watched it.

Andréa Picard, Programmer, TIFF Cinematheque & Toronto International Film


.And to have played any part in the making of your film – really is one of the proudest achievements of my life. Thank you for including me. I will be forever grateful.  Bekka Lindstrom, actor

Ms. Hammer’s Maya Deren’s Sink, a tribute to the avant-garde filmmaker done with Ms. Hammer’s indelible touch, employing Ms. Deren’s clips reprocessed and reimagined into a thoughtful sui generis work of art.  The Berlinale Jury, 2011

I may be biased, but I think this is my favorite of your films yet!

– K.J.Mohr, Director of Film and Digital Media Programs at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore and Program Director for the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Diving Women of Jeju-do: In Korean with English Subtitles

For hundreds of years the women of the Korean island of Jeju-du have been diving without breathing apparatus to the ocean floor and collecting shellfish, octopus, and urchins that they sell.  This ancient tradition is about to die.  Filmmaker Barbara Hammer dives with the women and records the reasons behind their disappearing work and lifestyles.

Diving Women of Jeju-do, 30 min., Color/Sound, 2007 by Barbara Hammer

In Korean with English Subtitles


Jeju-do is the largest of Korean islands and lies between Korea and Japan.  There, for hundreds of years, women dive without breathing apparatus to the ocean floor and collect shellfish, octopus, and urchins that they sell.  This ancient woman’s tradition is about to die.  Filmmaker Barbara Hammer dives with the women and records the reasons behind their disappearing work and lifestyles.


The divers are in their sixties and seventies and their daughters do not want to inherit their work, lifestyle, and health problems that go with diving.  As a filmmaker I was privileged to meet many of these women who like me are in their sixties, dive with them, and visit in their homes.  Their stories of hardship and pride confirmed my desire to record this unique and ancient tradition.

As a guest at the Seoul Women’s Film Festival I flew to Jeju-do with a small crew. The extraordinary divers passed on historical memories to me as well as health and social problems they face.  The privilege of meeting and diving with these women was followed by invitations into individual homes where I heard their personal stories of hardship as well as pride in continuing this unique and ancient tradition.  These women are old and ill and most of their daughters who inherit their diving rights do not want to continue this line of work.  Further, the work has been misrepresented in the media as a tourist attraction.

I was given a special opportunity to meet and learn about the divers whose tradition dates back to the 16th century.  This strong group of women fought against an invasion and massacre and was the first group of united women to do so in the history of their country.  Today they continue to suffer discrimination, dangerous hazards, and health complications.  I respect and celebrate their traditions.

This film continues my devotion to bringing to bring to light obscure histories of women.

DIVING WOMEN OF JEJU-DO introduces one of the first divers I met who came from the sea singing a song to me about how I was born to make films and she was born to dive. These spontaneous folk songs made up at the moment are part of the cultural heritage of Jeju-do divers.  Another diver invites us into her home and tells her stories of hardship trying to eke a living from a depleted sea. She like all the divers takes drugs that allow her to dive for 5 hours a day without breathing apparatus.  These drugs lead to serious health problems of the divers who can push to thirty feet and more in depth without airtanks to gather the few whelks and conches that are left in a depleted sea.

All my documentary work records endangered histories by making the invisible, visible.  The diving women of Jeju-do histories are unknown and their tradition is threatened by growing health hazards, government neglect and environmental pollution.  Their histories could be lost without documentary preservation.

Woodstock Artists Association and Museum

28 Tinker Street, Woodstock, New York 12498 • 845-679-2940 • info@woodstockart.org

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1 reply


  1. Matteo Marchisano-Adamo, independent Hollywood filmmaker, musician; Los Angeles, California | combustus


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