UW Parkside Hosts New Exhibit by Sky Hopinka

By Kaili Berg

     From February 4 through March 20, the Mathis Gallery in the Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts & Humanities at Parkside displayed a series of videos showing Sky Hopinka’s works.

     Sky Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. The announcement of identity is significant to his work, revealing the layered strata of information, presence, confusion, and history.

      In similar ways, Hopinka’s videos use figures and texts that are layered and dense in image and sound, movement and meaning, and those tactics assist in questioning the complications of knowledge, access, and artifact. 

     As a tribal member and as the maker, Hopinka takes steps to acknowledge his presence and involvement. The possibilities of experimental cinema open a wide range of modes that help think through the complications of culture and existence, both contemporary and historical, and how to explore, question, and arrange the multitude of layers that constitute an Indigenous post-colonial perspective.

     These layers are an imperfect puzzle that are not about the precision of the connections, but rather the generation of overlapping swathes of emotion and ways of understanding – for the viewer and Hopinka.

     Hopinka’s work was a part of the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial and the 2017 Whitney Biennial and the 2018 FRONT Triennial. 

      He was a guest curator at the 2019 Whitney Biennial and was a part of Cosmopolis #2 at the Centre Pompidou. 

     He was awarded jury prizes at the Onion City Film Festival, the More with Less Award at the 2016 Images Festival, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, the New Cinema Award at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival and the Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship for Individual Artists in the Emerging artist category for 2018. 

     He was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2018-2019 and the Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow for 2019.

     “I use cinema as a way to express different parts as how I identify as an indigenous person. There aren't a lot of ways to express that specifically
through art, that is about beauty, language, and things that are hard to describe in this western world we live in,” said Sky Hopinka. “For me, making moving images, and cinema has been a way to explore these different questions on what to do with history or how to relate to history and present that in the future.”