Honey Moccasin (1998) by Shelley Niro
The Cousin Collective was formed in 2018 by Adam Piron, Alex Lazarowich, Sky Hopinka and Adam Khalil. The question of how to find other Indigenous filmmakers who are making work that is experimental and exciting was where we began. How to support and share their films is where we’re at now. The programs in the Cousins and Kin series are a culmination and a survey of the moving images we’ve curated individually and collectively over the years.
Shelley Niro’s Honey Moccasin
program online May 16–June 15, 2021
Honey Moccasin (1998) by Shelley Niro, 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 49 minutes, exhibition file from Vtape
Set on the fictional Grand Pine Indian Reservation, Shellet Niro’s Honey Moccasin (1998) looks at the world and tribal members around its titular character, played by Tantoo Cardinal. Whether it’s jumping from performance art sequences to a mock-cable access show or to a tongue-in-cheek crime mystery, it melds its irreverent cinematic language from elements of pop culture and a distinct brand of Native humor. Niro finds both an inviting exuberance and a playfulness in its experimental approach to questions of identity.
Honey Moccasin defies any notion of traditional categorization. It takes no authoritative stance on delivering any kind of thesis on Indigeneity, but rather it seamlessly weaves its way through a multitude of approaches to present a surreal spectrum of subjective meaning. It’s its own open-endedness and the resulting nuance of this approach that Niro’s film has cemented its reputation as an underground classic of ‘90s Indigenous Cinema and ultimately timeless in its accessibility and concerns. As a forerunner to the recent blossoming of experimental work by Indigenous filmmakers, Niro’s film embodies the ethos of work by Indigenous artists that the Cousin Collective has aimed to support through its mission. For over twenty years, it remains a high watermark of experimental Indigenous Cinema and continues to inspire artists looking to push their own formal and thematic boundaries. (Adam Piron)
Shelley Niro (Mohawk) is a photographer, painter, sculptor, bead worker, multimedia artist and independent filmmaker. She is a member of the Turtle Clan at Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. Niro’s work has been shown across Canada, the USA and internationally.
Cousins and Kin is presented with the generous support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.