Video Room: Sky Hopinka


Jun. 30, 2024 - Aug. 13, 2023

MASP - AV Paulista, 1578
São Paulo, 01310
PHONE 11 3149-5959

MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand presents, from June 30 to August 13, 2023, on the 2nd underground floor of the museum, Sala de vídeo: Sky Hopinka [Video Room: Sky Hopinka], that features the videos Kicking the clouds and Mnemonics of Shape and Reason (both from 2021). Curated by María Inés Rodríguez, MASP’s modern and contemporary art curator-at-large, the works reflect, through the landscape, music and language, some of the traditions and ancestral practices that survived through the oppression system, developing new forms that express the complexity of the indigenous populations in the United States nowadays.

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation, Wisconsin/Pechanga Band from Luiseño people, 1984) is a visual artist that, through his video, photo and text compositions, expresses his opinion on the indigenous territory and landscape, employing personal means of communication, non-fictional archives and documents. Hopinka defines his work as an ethnopoetic reflection, referring to a concept by the writer and translator Eliot Weinberger in The Camera People (1992), where he describes what happens when the observed communities, usually studied and filmed by traditional ethnographers, especially white and western, decide to take the cameras and film what they believe is necessary and relevant about themselves.

In his videos, the filmmaker tells stories about his identity and the indigenous ways of life, diving into his origins and through autobiographical narratives that communicate directly to the native public, without the pressure of explaining the meaning to the non-native. “Through his work, the artist explores different ways of questioning the complexity of contemporary indigenous identity. If your artwork is inspired by the community to which you belong, your work is a clear way of resisting the ethnographic point of view that seeks to locate, define and determine what is authentic and what isn’t”, states the adjunct-curator María Inés Rodríguez.

In Kicking the clouds (2021), Hopinka reflects about his elderly and ancestry, guided by an audio record of his grandmother, 50 years ago, learning to speak Luiseño from her mother. The video shows images from family members, the house where they currently live and personal objects, besides featuring an interview with the mother’s artist, telling her memories about the audio, her life and other family themes. The video’s construction involves a poem that appears as a subtitle at the bottom of the screen.

The video Mnemonics of Shape and Reason (2021) goes through the memory of a place visited by the artist. He overlaps and reconstructs the desert rocky landscapes with a track composed of texts and music, creating a rhythmic report of the spiritual implications of colonization. His reflections show a spiritual malleability linked to earth, sky, sea, myth, place and personality. The narrative conducts the spectator through various landscapes in this story that has no beginning, middle or end, allowing the public to enter his work at any point of his timeline and experience, with him, a meaningful experience.


Sky Hopinka is a visual artist, born in 1984, member of the Ho-Chunk Nation from Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band from the Luiseño people. His work was presented in several festivals, including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Courtisane Festival, Punto de Vista and New York Film Festival. His work was part of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, FRONT Triennial 2018 and Prospect.5, in 2021. He was a guest curator of the 2019 Whitney Biennial and participated on Cosmopolis #2 at the Centre Pompidou. He held solo exhibitions at the Cultural Study Center, Bard College, in New York, in 2020, and at LUMA, in Arles, France, 2022. He received the Infinity Award in Art from the International Center and from Alpert Award for Film/Video, as well as scholarships, including The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, at Harvard University; Sundance Art of Nonfiction; Art Matters; The Guggenheim Foundation; and the Forge Project. In the fall of 2022, Hopinka received the MacArthur fellowship for this work as a visual artist and filmmaker.

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