Sky Hopinka: An Interview

Video Data Bank

2017 | 01:25:21 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: Interviews, On Art and Artists

Tags: Conceptual Art, Documentary, Indigenous, Interview, Landscape, VDB Interviews

In this interview with Carl Bogner, Sky Hopinka (b. 1984) discusses his process of becoming a video artist and his personal approach to documenting Indigenous landscapes and cultures. Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, and he is also an educator in Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. Hopinka’s practice involves experiments within the cinematic language of documentary. He fuses facts and fictions to create “ethnopoetic” videos that aim to reclaim the ethnographic gaze that has dominated representations of indigenous cultures in moving image.

The interview opens with Hopinka talking about “wandering” as a mode of working, exemplified in his recent video, Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary (2017). To him, the Indigenous landscape is not only a representation of its people, but also has its own voice. In the interview, the artist discusses how he would manipulate digital footage with abstract images in order to complicate the representation of landscape. By doing so, he allows room for more ambiguity in understanding Native identities. Language has always been at the center of Hopinka’s research. In this interview, Hopinka also sheds light on his use of voice recordings as a tool rather than an archive. Language can take on many forms in Hopinka’s work; it appears as overlaid images and symbols as well as coalesced voices and music, forming a conversation between past and present.

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