I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins: Carolina Caycedo and Sky Hopinka

December 2 – December 30, 2018
Photos by Mario Gallucci

I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins is a two-person exhibition that presents a dialogue between the artistic practices of Carolina Caycedo and Sky Hopinka.

Both artists’ works consider the violence of land appropriation, privatization, and excavation, often in the name of progress, and the consequent effects of displacement on communities that continue to resist the long-term destructive ramifications of development efforts. Borrowing its title from the opening line of Langston Hughes’ poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, found in Caycedo’s homage video work, Que nuestras almas se hagan profundas como ríos / Let Our Souls Grow Deep Like Rivers (2017), the exhibition emphasizes how ecological destruction is deeply rooted in imperial and patriarchal histories, which lead to the erasure of communities and the lands they inhabit. And as Hughes impresses, similar to river water, the history of people does not flow in a single direction. Stories move forward and then wrap back around on themselves, oftentimes shifting their intended meaning and/or leading back to the beginning.

Sky Hopinka’s moving image work addresses considerations around homeland, the preservation of language, and the undefinable spaces between the known, the sought after, and the unknowable. His film, Dislocation Blues (2017), refutes grand narratives and instead presents individual reflections from the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota, during the struggles to combat the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (2016-17). As characters recount their experiences of the resistance, they reveal the difficulty of understanding and communicating this historic event. Caycedo’s videos, drawings, and sculptures, including cast nets collected during her field research, address contexts and groups impacted by large-scale developmental undertakings. Her ongoing project, Be Dammed, investigates the effects that large dams have on natural and social landscapes in several American bio-regions. Aerial and satellite imagery, geo-choreographies and audio-visual essays intersect social bodies with bodies of water, exploring public space in rural contexts and conjuring water as a common good. The research also analyzes the social damage that results from the building of dams and gravely impacting the natural courses on water river ecosystems.

By means of both Hopinka’s and Caycedo’s involvement with groups and communities impacted by such acts, the artists propose an investigatory mode of engaging with people, lands, and environments afflicted by extraction and privatization. Through the methodical reveal of these resistance movements and violent realities, the artists impress the notion that it is through the continuous act of looking, searching, and researching alongside communities, that we might begin to understand and contend with the consequences of such ruinous acts over time. Another film by Hopinka, Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary (2017), also articulates the necessity to observe. The artist employs the writings of architect Kengo Kuma in order to draw a relationship between the last speakers of Chinuk Wawa, the Chinookan creole, and the Chinookan people who inhabited the land around Portland. As images remain fragmented, and the space without a path or boundary comes together, the work expresses that “Everything is interconnected and intertwined,” and that the protection of places and communities could intrinsically offer protection for society at large.

Public programs

Thursday, November 29, 6:30-8pm at PNCA
MFA in Visual Studies Lecture Series: Suzy Halajian
The MFA in Visual Studies program in collaboration with Disjecta Contemporary Arts Center is excited to welcome the Disjecta 2018-19 Curator in Residence, Suzy Halajian, as part of the 2018 Visiting Artist Lecture Series.
Location: Shipley/ Collins Mediatheque, 511 NW Broadway

Sunday, December 2, 2-4pm at c3:initiative
Carolina Caycedo: Participatory presentation of the Serpent River Book
Published in 2017 by Caycedo, the Serpent River Book combines archival images, maps, poems, lyrics, satellite photos, with the artist’s own images and texts on river bio-cultural diversity, in a long and meandering collage. The fluctuating publication can frame many narratives. As a book it can be opened, pleated, and read in many directions. It has a performative potential to it, functioning as a score or as a workshop tool. The book gathers visual and written materials compiled by the artist while working in Colombian, Brazilian, and Mexican communities affected by the industrialization and privatization of river systems.
Location: c3:initiative, 7326 N Chicago Ave.

Tuesday, December 18, 7pm at Northwest Film Center
Sky Hopinka: I’ll Remember You as You Were
Hopinka will present a selection of his moving images works, including Jaaji Approx. (2015), a film that approximates a relationship between audio recordings of the artist’s father and videos of landscapes through which they have individually passed. Additionally, I’ll Remember You as You Were, not as What You’ll Become (2016) presents an elegy to the poet Diane Burns on the shapes of mortality, and being, and the forms the transcendent spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of life and death. Following the screening, Hopinka will discuss his practice with curator Suzy Halajian.
This program is co-presented by the Northwest Film Center.
Location: Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium, inside the Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave.

Carolina Caycedo was born in London to Colombian parents and is currently based in Los Angeles. She transcends institutional spaces to work in the social realm, where she participates in movements of territorial resistance, solidarity economies, and housing as a human right. Caycedo’s practice has a collective dimension to it in which performances, drawings, photographs, and videos are not just an end result, but rather part of the artist’s process of research and acting.

She has developed publicly engaged projects in Bogota, Quezon City, Toronto, Madrid, São Paulo, Lisbon, San Juan, New York, San Francisco, Paris, Mexico City, Tijuana, and London. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions and biennials worldwide, including São Paulo (2016), Berlin (2014), Paris Triennial (2013), and New Museum (2011). In 2012, Caycedo was a DAAD Artists-in-Berlin resident. She has received funding from Creative Capital, California Community Foundation, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Harpo Foundation, Art Matters, Colombian Culture Ministry, Arts Council UK, and Prince Claus Fund. She received an MFA from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a BFA from the Los Andes University, Bogotá.

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, Portland, Oregon, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is currently based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. 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 and designs of language as containers of culture.

His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, Images, Wavelengths, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Sundance, Antimatter, FLEX Fest, and Projections. His work was part of the Whitney Biennial (2017) and the Wisconsin Triennial (2016). Hopinka was awarded jury prizes at the Onion City Film Festival, the More with Less Award at the 2016 Images Festival, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, the New Cinema Award at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, and the Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship for Individual Artists in the Emerging artist category for 2018. He received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a BA from Portland State University. He is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.