The Ethnopoetic Cinema of Sky Hopinka
Date: May 2, 2019
Location: LACMA | Bing Theater
Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 90036
Sky Hopinka in person! Co-presented by LACMA.
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.
In person: Sky Hopinka
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.
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