Collection 1970s–Present

Sky Hopinka. I'll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You'll Become. 2016 293

Video (color, sound), 12:35 min. Fund for the Twenty-First Century

Sky Hopinka: My name is Sky Hopinka You're looking at the film I'll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You'll Become from 2016.

I like to think of this film as an elegy to the poet Diane Burns and also a rumination on different ideas around reincarnation, as my tribe, the Ho-Chunk Nation, believes in it, and how those ways of thinking about life and death outside of the Christian context could function in a cinematic space.

Diane Burns passed away, just before I encountered her poetry, in the mid-2000s, and that felt like I missed a chance to meet her, but it was really special to find her words, especially as I began writing on my own and making my own films.

There's a sequence in the middle of the film, it's archival footage of Diane reciting some poetry. And then I overlaid these images that I had taken at night. One was a giant cross. And there was something about her tone and authority in her reading that it felt like this was a moment of fun or play to have this cross dancing and all the weight around its symbolism.

I filmed Pow Wow dancers and that sequence is heavily abstracted because I really wanted the audience to focus on the dancing and the movement and the colors, rather than the spectacle of a Pow Wow. Abstraction for me has been a way of protecting the subjects and protecting the content and protecting these histories that have been exploited by anthropologists, by ethnographers, by filmmakers. There's always been some loss, whether it's cultural knowledge or exploitative knowledge through documentation of things that shouldn't be documented. I’m trying to give a sense of agency or ownership of this information, of these histories, of these documents back to the people that they were taken from.

I make work for an Indigenous audience. You can watch if you're not part of these communities. But just know that I'm not going to be doing a lot of explaining. And I don't think it's a lot to ask a non-indigenous audience to try and keep up a little bit, or to try and ask questions later on, or to just stop and listen.