Broadway is pleased to present River Child the gallery’s second solo exhibition by Hudson Valley-based artist Sky Hopinka. Centered on the New York debut of two recent video works The Island Weights and Kicking the Clouds, the show embodies the artist’s peripatetic existence, gathering footage and inspiration for his writing along the way. In addition, he has created a group of unique photographs hand-inscribed with his poems and prose which effectively distill the impact of the moving image works.
Hopinka’s camera has an insatiable appetite for landscape, and these new films are characteristically both dreamlike and startlingly specific. The rapturous views are complimented by the artist’s hypnotic, persistent voice and his command of language and languages. In overlapping layers, the work weaves a rhythmic, complex web of sound, text and image.
Based on part of a Ho-Chunk creation story, The Island Weights is concerned with spirits occupying the four points of the compass, like sentries keeping the planet in equilibrium. Imagined as a multi-part travelogue to the ends of the Earth, Hopinka takes us from pristine forests to the megamalls of the Midwest in two-channel sequences that are intermittently crystal clear and eerily distorted in tandem with its haunting soundtrack.
Kicking the Clouds originates in a tape recording of the artist’s grandmother learning an ancestral language from her mother. This audio becomes the impetus for Hopinka’s investigation of his own mother’s life and highlights the artist’s penchant for poetic documentary, and the seamlessness between the personal and the political. The cinematography, by turns lush and matter-of-fact, takes in the countryside of Washington State where his family now lives, with long tracking shots from moving cars and handheld wanderings. Hopinka’s reputation for precise and powerful employment of music in his films is in evidence in both of the works with the inclusion of songs by the artist’s frequent collaborator Courtney Asztalos.