Sky Hopinka: The sun comes in whenever it wants

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Sky Hopinka is an experimental filmmaker, photographer, and poet. A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin (United States), Hopinka engages with a practice he refers to as ethnopoetic and neomythological. Over the years, he has developed an idiosyncratic language informed by diverse histories, the intertwining of personal and collective memory and explorations that question dominant norms of identity, perception and myth-making. The sun comes in whenever it wants is his first major exhibition in France and includes earlier and more recent video and photographic works.

Hopinka creates contemplative compositions of a rich formal and textural nature, based on interviews, family archives, diaristic travels and texts. His work reveals his interest in conceptual questions relating to perception, communication, and the metaphysical nature of the world. Balancing between intimacy and objectivity, his rigorous explorations challenge the viewer and reveal the complex relationship across documentary and fiction, oscillating between representation and abstraction.

Central to his concerns are the stories of Native Americans living in the United States. Using archival material and personal chronicles, he explores places across the country, such as Standing Rock in South Dakota, a site of protest that brought together thousands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The charged histories of sites, themes of resistance, revolt, slavery and colonization are often present. Working in different languages and diverse image-making techniques, he offers unique insights to the rich culture of Native American societies amplified by personal, intimate moments and memories.

Including a series of videos, photography and visual poetry, the display on the north side of the gallery is revelatory of the different techniques, such as transparency and digital manipulation Hopinka employs. Concepts like the complexity of language, the idea of a homeland and personal reflections on the relationship between descendants and ancestors, are explored in the works on display. On the south side of the gallery,  a dedicated room includes a range of video works playing in a sequence. They focus on memories of places, recollections of youth, and experiences of loss and longing. Powerful visuals and evocative sounds depict a unique view on the human condition.

The ambition to present a more complex history of photographic representation and time-based moving images, to construct non-linear narratives around several histories and to use the disappearance of languages and physical spaces as contexts for exploring ideas of resistance and transmission of knowledge are key to the exhibition and to Hopinka’s vision. Employing several regimes of signs, from poetry to music and from text to image and language, Hopinka emphasizes the plurality that defines cross-cultural and cross-generational realities. Memories and the tracing of multiple histories are vividly revealed in the visual poems, photographs and videos present in the exhibition.


Organised by Vassilis Oikonomopoulos, director of exhibitions and programs, and Flora Katz, curator, assisted by Claire Charrier, junior project manager.

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Sky Hopinka

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, Portland, Oregon, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video, photo, and text work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal, documentary, and non fiction forms of media. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and currently teaches at Bard College in Film and Electronic Arts.

Sky Hopinka about his exhibition "The sun comes in whenever it wants"


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