Still from Dancer

Hammer Projects: Dara Friedman

Dara Friedman explores notions of performativity, urban space, and the individual in the public sphere in her ebullient, poetic films and videos. For Dancer (2011), she enlisted Miami-based dancers of all stripes to dance through the city streets for the camera. Shot on 16mm black-and-white film and transferred to HD video, Dancer celebrates both the city and the medium of dance. With the city streets as a backdrop, dancers improvise, expressing the specificity of their styles and skills and making meaning through movement. Organized by Hammer senior curator Anne Ellegood, Hammer Projects: Dara Friedman is Friedman’s first exhibition in Los Angeles.



By Anne Ellegood

When Dara Friedman was a young girl, she would obsessively analyze the plot of a movie to identify the gaps in its logic and to figure out where the story broke down or lost its flow. Her propensity for deconstruction was not, however, of the finger-pointing, “this makes no sense” type. Instead she was looking for the moment in the film when the rupture in its reasoning would seem to portend that the whole thing would fall apart but when instead, astoundingly, it all came together. Friedman has described this as the moment when she would “feel” the work and would somehow understand its meaning, its purpose, or its impact. For her, engaging in this type of exacting analysis did not suck the life out of the film or diminish her enjoyment of it but was a journey to find its life force. The process allowed her to locate an instance of heightened awareness, to identify the precise moment when thought progresses from the brain to the body. Friedman recognized this dynamic connection between mind and body—when to think something is also to understand it physically—at an early age. And this constant push and pull between the intellectual and the sensual, between a state of control and a state of release, has become the primary preoccupation of her filmmaking over the past several years. 


Hammer Projects is a series of exhibitions focusing primarily on the work of emerging artists. 

Hammer Projects is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Maurice Marciano and Paul Marciano; and Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy. 

Additional support is provided by Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley; the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; the Decade Fund; and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund.