Event The Cloven World of Sky Hopinka

The Cloven World of Sky Hopinka

QFF Screening

18 October 2018

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The searching, striking digital films of Sky Hopinka are complex formal arrangements, conceptually and aesthetically dense, characterised by an intricate layering of word and image.
—Dennis Lim, Artforum:

The Cloven World of Sky Hopinka presents seven short films by Sky Hopinka, from the Ho-Chunk and Pechanga Tribes of North America, presented in partnership with Queensland Film Festival. The films are centred around personal perspectives of Indigenous homeland and landscape, language as containers of culture, and the play between the known and the unknowable.

Wawa 2014, 6 minutes
Featuring speakers of chinuk wawa, an Indigenous language from the Pacific Northwest, Wawa commingles forms of documentary and ethnography, translating and transmuting ideas of cultural identity, language, and history.

Jáaji Approx. 2015, 8 minutes
‘Jáaji’ is the direct-address word for ‘father’ in the Hočąk language. The second part of the title alludes not only to the approximations of translation but also to the notions of proximity and distance that shape the video’s form and content. A road movie, passing through archetypal landscapes of the American West, it combines fragmentary shots of open skies, coastlines, forests, mountains, deserts, and highways with Hopinka’s audio recordings of his father’s stories and songs.

Visions of an Island 2016, 15 minutes
This film captures glimpses of an island in the centre of the Bering Sea. An Unangam Tunuu elder describes cliffs and summits, drifting birds, and deserted shores. A group of students and teachers play and invent games, revitalising their language.

I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become 2016, 13 minutes
This elegy to poet Diane Burns (Chemehuevi/Anishinabe) ruminates on the mystical processes of transfiguration and reincarnation. Dancing figures at a powwow are transformed into otherworldly psychedelic streaks.

Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary 2017, 13 minutes
Taken from the texts of the architect Kengo Kuma, the title of this film suggests a way of looking at everything as interconnected and intertwined. Depictions of two structures in the Portland Metropolitan Area that have direct and complicated connections to the Chinookan people who inhabit the land are interwoven with audio of one of the last speakers of the Chinookan creole, chinuk wawa.

Dislocation Blues 2017, 17 minutes
Reflections from Standing Rock Indian Reservation and Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Cleo Keahna recounts his experiences entering, being at, and leaving the camp, and the difficulties and the reluctance in looking back with a clear, critical eye. Terry Running Wild describes what his camp is like and what he hopes it will become.

Fainting Spells 2018, 11 minutes
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.


The Institute of Modern Art acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the IMA now stands, the Jagera, Yuggera, Yugarapul, and Turrbal people. We offer our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first artists of this country. In the spirit of allyship, the IMA will continue to work with First Nations people to celebrate, support, and present their immense past, present, and future contribution to artistic practice and cultural expression.