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The Ethnopoetic Cinema of Sky Hopinka

May 2, 2019

The Ethnopoetic Cinema of Sky Hopinka

Sky Hopinka in person!
Co-presented by LACMA.


7:00 PM


7:30 PM


LACMA | Bing Theater
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg
Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg

*Note:  Tickets for this screening are free for LACMA members and friends of  Acropolis Cinema. Please follow the link to reserve tickets. Limited number available.

Sky Hopinka is an artist and filmmaker whose work is featured in the  upcoming 2019 Whitney Biennial. This screening will be the first-ever  L.A. retrospective of Hopinka’s work. Known for some of “the most  striking, thought-provoking and intricately assembled video works of  recent years” (Filmmaker Magazine),  Hopinka, a Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendent of the Pechanga Band  of Luiseño Indians, has emerged as a vital voice in contemporary Native  American filmmaking. Meshing vibrant images of mysterious landscapes  with sonic experiences, his self-described “ethnopoetic” films combine  documentary and experimental practices to create a unique cinematic  language exploring ideas of language, culture, homeland, and displacement.


- wawa

Sky Hopinka, 2014, 6 min.

Featuring  speakers of chinuk wawa, an Indigenous language from the Pacific  Northwest, Wawa begins slowly, patterning various forms of documentary  and ethnography. Quickly, the patterns tangle and become confused and  commingled, while translating and transmuting ideas of cultural  identity, language, and history.

- Kunįkága Remembers Red Banks, Kunįkága Remembers the Welcome Song

Sky Hopinka, 2014, 10 min.

The  video traverses the history and the memory of a place shared by both  the Hočąk and the settler. Red Banks, a pre-contact Hočąk village site  near present day Green Bay, WI was also the site of Jean Nicolet’s  landing, who in 1634 was the first European in present day Wisconsin.  Images and text are used to explore this space alongside my  grandmother’s recollections. Each serve as representations of personal  and shared memory, as well as representations of practices and processes  of remembrance, from the Hočąk creation story, to Jean Nicolet’s  landing, to the present.

- Venite et Loquamur

Sky Hopinka, 2015, 11 min.

A  group of students and teachers gather in an historical mansion in the  woods of West Virginia for a week-long retreat in spoken Latin.

- Jáaji Approx.

Sky Hopinka, 2015, 8 min.

Logging  and approximating a relationship between audio recordings of my father  and videos gathered of the landscapes we have both separately traversed.  The initial distance between the logger and the recordings, of  recollections and of songs, new and traditional, narrows while the  images become an expanding semblance of filial affect. Jáaji is a near  translation for directly addressing a father in the Hočak language.

- Visions of an Island

Sky Hopinka, 2016, 15 min.

An  Unangam Tunuu elder describes cliffs and summits, drifting birds, and  deserted shores.  A group of students and teachers play and invent games  revitalizing their language.  A visitor wanders in a quixotic  chronicling of earthly and supernal terrain.  These visions offer  glimpses of an island in the center of the Bering Sea.

- I'll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You'll Become

Sky Hopinka, 2016, 13 min.

An  elegy to Diane Burns on the shapes of mortality, and being, and the  forms the transcendent spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of  life and death. A place for new mythologies to syncopate with  deterritorialized movement and song, reifying old routes of  reincarnation. Where resignation gives hope for another opportunity,  another form, for a return to the vicissitudes of the living and all  their refractions.

- Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary

Sky Hopinka, 2017, 13 min.

The  title of this video, taken from the texts of the architect Kengo Kuma,  suggests a way of looking at everything as “interconnected and  intertwined” - such as the historical and the present and the tool and  the artifact. Images and representations of two structures in the  Portland Metropolitan Area that have direct and complicated connections  to the Chinookan people who inhabit(ed) the land are woven with audio  tapes of one of the last speakers of chinuk wawa, the Chinookan creole,  chinuk wawa. These localities of matter resist their reduction into  objects, and call anew for space and time given to wandering as a  deliberate act, and the empowerment of shared utility.

- Dislocation Blues

Sky Hopinka, 2017, 17 min.

An  incomplete and imperfect portrait of reflections from Standing Rock.  Cleo Keahna recounts his experiences entering, being at, and leaving the  camp and the difficulties and the reluctance in looking back with a  clear and critical eye. Terry Running Wild describes what his camp is  like, and what he hopes it will become.

- Fainting Spells

Sky Hopinka, 2018, 11 min.

Told  through recollections of youth, learning, lore, and departure, this is  an imagined myth for the Xąwįska, or the Indian Pipe Plant - used by the  Ho-Chunk to revive those who have fainted.

Visually stunning requiems to a country’s disappearing land.

- Matthew J. Abrams, BOMB

[Hopinka's films] invite new ways of seeing, attesting that any landscape can be inverted and read anew.

- Jesse Cumming, Cinema Scope

Hopinka’s  fluid style treats cinema as a tool to traverse unbridgeable distances  -- not so much to resurrect the past as to permit it to change forms.

- Max Goldberg, KQED Arts

The  searching, striking digital films of Sky Hopinka are complex formal  arrangements, conceptually and aesthetically dense, characterized by an  intricate layering of word and image. But they are also wellsprings of  beauty and mystery, filled with surprising confluences of speech and  song, color and motion.

- Dennis Lim, Artforum

Hopinka  has gained attention in avant-garde circles not only because of his  unique cultural and historical perspective, but because each of his  films is a forceful, painterly object, [combining] a vernacular  treatment of landscape with a sort of interior illumination, an approach  that makes even a night shot headed down the road seem physically  palpable, replete with possibility.

- Michael Sicinski, MUBI Notebook

(Available to download after screening date)

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