Containers of Culture
Sky Hopinka is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. A big part of Hopinka’s artistic practice grapples with the accelerated disappearance with language and attempting to resist it. For him, language is a container of culture.
“There are so many different ways of looking at the world with the language that you speak, sometimes you notice it and sometimes you don’t”, he explains. “The language that I learned from from my different tribes, they taught me how the landscape and different cultural aspects that are precious can only be understood within the language.”
The session starts with an observation by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries in London, who refers to a provocative idea by the late French writer and poet Edouard Glissant about how we live in an “age of homogenized globalisation” in which cultural phenomenon, such as languages, are beginning to disappear—and why we need to resist that.
Artist Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington. In Portland, he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture, and the play between the known and the unknowable.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is Artistic Director of the Serpentine Galleries, London. Prior to this, he was the Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Since 1991 he has curated more than 250 shows. Obrist’s publications include A Brief History of Curating, Project Japan: Metabolism Talks with Rem Koolhaas, Do It: The Compendium, Think Like Clouds and Ai Weiwei Speaks.