An elegy to the late Native American poet Diane Burns, Sky Hopinka’s I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become is a meditation on mortality, reincarnation, and the forms the transcendent spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of life and death The film continues Hopinka’s exploration of the ways his indigenous homeland, language, and identity interconnect.
In his carefully composed and thickly layered film, Hopinka weaves together original and found images and sounds to form a visual and aural montage that is sublime and otherworldly, yet grounded in reality. Archival footage of Burns—a poet known for challenging Native American stereotypes—is punctuated with powwow dancers filmed by Hopinka, and ethnographic texts on Ho-Chunk concepts of rebirth and the afterlife written by American anthropologist Paul Radin. The rhythmic sound of Sacred Harp singing and ambient electronic music form the film’s soundtrack.
Image: Sky Hopinka, I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become, 2016; HD video; 00:12:31. Image copyright of the artist, courtesy of the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, www.vdb.org.