Untitled, 2020 was taken as part of a group of photographs that Hopinka calls Breathings which he shot with an analogue camera in the winter and spring of 2020. A selection of Breathings was featured in the exhibition Sky Hopinka: Centers of Somewhere, a survey of the artist’s work presented at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, in late 2020.
The Breathings photographs are scattershot, marking moments across Hopinka’s peripatetic travels around the U.S. during an uncertain period, and yet collectively they amount to a larger search for direction. Hopinka has noted that the Breathings were made after he’d finished his first feature film malni (2020) and that, following the completion of that years-long project and against the backdrop of the pandemic, the photographs reflect a “sense of wandering” and “loss” as well as an artistic reorientation and a desire to work outside of a cinematic mode.
Holland Cotter, Co-Chief Critic of the New York Times wrote that Hopinka titled Breathings after a form of Indigenous prayer, but noted that the artist “left the overall meaning of the work, open-ended, the alignment of words and images semi-random, and the order of the photographs unfixed. In the series, document, diary, politics and poetry meet.”
Biography: 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.
His work has played at various festivals including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Courtisane Festival, Punto de Vista, and the New York Film Festival. His work was a part of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 2018 FRONT Triennial and Prospect.5. He was a guest curator at the 2019 Whitney Biennial and participated in Cosmopolis #2 at the Centre Pompidou. He has had solo exhibitions at the Great Poor Farm Experiment in 2019 and at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, in 2020. He was awarded 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, a Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow for 2019, an Art Matters Fellow in 2019, a recipient of a 2020 Alpert Award for Film/Video, a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, and is a 2021 Forge Project Fellow.
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