Milwaukee-based filmmaker Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) focuses on the interconnections between his indigenous homeland, language, and identity, weaving family traditions together with a new generation’s perspectives. Often ethnographic in tone, Hopinka’s rigorously composed and thickly layered films create maps of dreams and memories, pushing against personal boundaries and making cultural connections.
Following a screening of his short films, Hopinka will discuss his practice and recent Artist Op-Ed The Centers of Somewhere with assistant curator/archivist Ruth Hodgins and Walker Reader managing editor Paul Schmelzer.
Free tickets available from 6 pm at the Main Lobby Desk.
Kunįkága Remembers Red Banks, Kunįkága Remembers the Welcome Song
Hopinka’s grandmother shares memories and history of the Hočąk (Ho-Chunk nation) at Red Banks, a pre-contact Hočąk village near present day Green Bay, Wisconsin. Layered with scenes of changing atmospheres and landscapes—highways to coastlines, thunder to early morning sun—the past lives of Hočąk people and land are transported into the present. 2014, US, digital, 9 min.
Hopinka and his father, Jaaji, drive through wild and constructed landscapes, revealing the family’s indigenous homeland through a spectrum of colors and monumental vistas. Jaaji nostalgically narrates stories from his youth against images of neon light bridges, gas stations, and highways running through valleys. His generational perspective highlights encounters separated in time, yet deeply connected by place. 2015, US, digital, 8 min.
I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become
Powerful rhythms weave with obscured images to evoke the life and work of poet Diane Burns (1957–2006), known for writing on indigenous stereotypes and traditions. Clips of Burns performing, footage from the American Indian Community House in New York, and texts from American anthropologist Paul Radin are combined in this experimental film that simultaneously reflects, critiques, and celebrates Native culture, mortality, and life. 2016, US, digital, 12 min.
In a rare moment when untouchable inner faith becomes earthly reality, Hopinka connects questions about identity with views and experiences of the protesters and fellow participants at Standing Rock. Set in contrast to the swinging catchy sound of Bobby Darin’s “Not for Me,” the hard realities of the landscape and the lives of the protesters show the complexities, struggles, and paradoxes that are part of Standing Rock. 2017, US, digital, 17 min.
In a haze of pinks, oranges, and reds, we enter a world of dreams, spirits, and myths. Hopinka reveals the story of Xąwįska, or the Indian Pipe Plant—used by the Ho-Chunk to revive those who have fainted. Told through recollections of youth, learning, lore, and departure, this is a myth that has been passed down through generations, illuminating the sense of losing oneself, of fear and renewal. 2018, US, digital, 12 min.