Sky Hopinka

Disfluencies are stutters, the ahs and ums in speech that signal both trouble with cohesion in language but can also signal fluency. I’ve thought about that word while putting these materials together, as these are the errata and the leftovers, the parts of films that I didn’t think could exist on their own or better served the greater whole. Yet each has its own significance in helping me get from one piece to another, from transitioning from video to film, to photography, to writing, to work that leans into language and my relationship to English as a Ho-Chunk and Pechanga person. My fluency is always questioned in this country; however, I know the ahs and the ums and the how-comes are ways that I pause and reflect on the errors and mistakes and their value for further understanding who I am and who I will be outside of the expectations white-wielded historicity places on my ancestry and my ancestors. 

This dossier contains the incomplete and the complete, the out-of-context and the wayward bits of things that I’ve held onto, think about often, and am obliged to, for many different debts. The earliest being the recording of the Paiute poet, Adrian C. Louis, reading poems at Portland State University around 2011. Adrian was very influential to me in his writing and his support of my work. I did my first and only poetry workshop with him and I still remember his obstinacy for punctuation. I’ve had this recording for ten years now.

The three videos included are also disfluent in the way they felt like hesitations before they found their final form and forms beyond the original in Dislocation Blues (2017), Fainting Spells (2018), and When you’re lost in the rain (2018), respectively. I’d always imagined them being independent from the completed films, and here is a space to see how they communicate with other works.

I’d long thought about pulling the audio tracks from different works and making them their own playlist, soundtrack, or whatever would make sense for them. This too was an opportunity to try it out and share with you these two pieces of music from Lore (2019) and Cloudless Blue Egress of Summer (2019).

The photos are the unused selection from a series I did called Breathings (2020), where I etch different texts that I wrote directly onto the surface of the photographs. That’s not that important to know with the photographs I’ve selected for this dossier, but they were also taken between January and June 2020, from Washington to Milwaukee, to Canada, and California.

The text pieces come from two of my previously published books, Around the Edge of Encircling Lake (Green Gallery Press, 2018) and Perfidia (Wendy’s Subway, 2020). The calligrams from Around the Edge of Encircling Lake are found texts arranged in the shape of effigy mounds that are scattered throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest region. The texts and their shape are a form of reclamation. Perfidia is a collection of poems that inspired a lot of other works, such as Cloudless Blue Egress of Summer, Lore, and the photo series The Land Describes Itself (2018), so it felt appropriate to include a few selections from that book to give a broader sense of the layers collected together and reflecting off of each other.

I have a hard time working through the woven aspects of all these works, when and where they were made, how they informed and influenced each other; the seeming failures that led to something more complete and realized. Perfidia is the most realized example of the interconnectedness of these works, and this dossier has given me the chance to look at earlier attempts of seeing and recognizing the lines and connections between the errata and disfluencies of a creative process. These are complete in their own way, and hopefully this introduction of me, to you, will help give a sense of the pauses and hesitations and mumblings between comprehension and ever-shifting questions and inquiry.

Read the calligram “Serpent Mound and the Worship of the Reciprocal Principles of Nature in Americai” as it appears in Around the Edge of Encircling Lake (Green Gallery Press, 2018).

Next: Sunshine Holiday, from Disfluencies: A Dossier by Sky Hopinka

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in the historic Eastern Market neighborhood in downtown Detroit. Click here to check out Three Fold’s events page and view a schedule of the publication’s on-site activities.

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