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.
what was always yours and never lost
Curated by Sky Hopinka
program online April 16–May 15, 2021
It’s a lonely thought that outside of the safe harbors of reservations, towns, circles of friends and remembrances of what was and could be are whole other worlds that at the same time are familiar yet foreign. We don’t just walk in two worlds—it’s never that easy—we dip in and out of so many. Our accents change, our dialects shift, our bodies become larger or smaller, our voices become meeker or louder and our jokes become softer and more benign, teasing in a way that can be harsh, mean and morbid. It can be lonely, but there’s a freedom in being alone. Within that freedom is a way to find others who have already said what you’ve said, have thought the ideas you’ve thought and are doing things you didn’t know could be done. It’s a relief and a beginning.
Here you have a number of films from a number of makers that come from different backgrounds, different countries, different homelands and different nations. The works traverse a wide range of topics dealing directly and indirectly with indigeneity: assertions of identity and presence in the face of and regardless of colonial history and outdated traditions of anthropology and ethnography. For me, they fit together so well because of how different they are.
I’d rather not describe the films, I’d rather have you watch them. All of the filmmakers in this program I love and respect and they have all challenged and transformed the way that I look at the world and how I exist in it. They’ve been generous and kind, they’ve made me laugh and let me cry. They make space for poetry, for beauty, for movement between cosmological and visceral worlds, sometimes blurring the lines between both. These filmmakers, they claim what was always theirs, and celebrate what was never lost. (Sky Hopinka)
SCREENING: Creature Dada (2016) by Caroline Monnet; digital video, color, sound, 3 minutes. Itzcóatl (2016) by Colectivo Los Ingràvidos; 35mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 5 minutes. Less Lethal Fetishes (2019) by Thirza Cuthand, digital video, color, sound, 10 minutes. Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition (2018) by New Red Order. Just Dandy (2013) by Thirza Cuthand, digital video, color, sound, 8 minutes. Gephyrophobia (2012) by Caroline Monnet; 16mm screened as digital video, black & white, sound, 2 minutes. Impresiones para una máquina de luz y sonido (2014) by Colectivo Los Ingràvidos; 16mm screened as digital video, black & white, sound, 7 minutes. Mobilize (2015) by Caroline Monnet; 16mm screened as digital video, color, sound, 3 minutes. The History of the Luiseño People (1993) by James Luna; digital video, color, sound, 27 minutes.
TRT: 75 minutes
Six powerful native women gather up to celebrate a new beginning and the end of the world as we know it. (Caroline Monnet)
The scales of the snake refract a trance and invocation. In the epicenter, the pyramids join Izcóatl’s battle, the « Obsidian Serpent » propagates an exhortation: all the dances against the war. (Colectivo Los Ingràvidos)
Not a sex video, maybe a sexy video? About a latent gas mask fetish but maybe actually about a certain art world tear gas controversy the filmmaker was involved in? But also about Chemical Valley in Southern Ontario? But with like a dick and tits and vag and gas masks and smoke bombs, lots of smoke bombs. A pretty film about weird shit. (Thirza Cuthand)
Half tongue-in-cheek absurdism and half deadly earnest, Culture Capture: Terminal Adddition continues the New Red Order’s ongoing project of “culture capture,” recruiting viewers to participate in a program of practical strategies to counter the “salvage mindset,” which sets aside Indigenous culture and sovereignty by consigning it to the past, thereby removing it from the present. (New Red Order)
Invited to speak at an Indigenous Revolutionary Meeting, the narrator describes an intimate encounter with an Evil Colonizing Queen which leads to Turtle Island’s contraction of an invasive European flora. (Thirza Cuthand)
The fear of bridges. (Caroline Monnet)
A woman raises her voice and gives a painful and endless speech that with time becomes even more overwhelming, because her words are heartbreaking and permanent impressions in the collective memory, stabbing with words an old Mexican film, a celluloid that tears apart until its disappearance. (Colectivo Los Ingràvidos)
Guided expertly by those who live on the land and driven by the pulse of the natural world, Mobilize takes us on an exhilarating journey from the far north to the urban south. Over every landscape, in all conditions, everyday life flows with strength, skill and extreme competence. Hands swiftly thread sinew through snowshoes. Axes expertly peel birch bark to make a canoe. A master paddler navigates icy white waters. In the city, Mohawk ironworkers stroll across steel girders, almost touching the sky, and a young woman asserts her place among the towers. The fearless polar punk rhythms of Tanya Tagaq’s “Uja” underscore the perpetual negotiation between the modern and traditional by a people always moving forward. (Caroline Monnet)
Based on his ever-changing performance Indian Tails, this video features Luna sitting alone in his darkened room in front of the TV on Christmas Eve. As he sits, he calls friends, family and ex-lovers, excusing himself from all their celebrations. Luna tells us, “In the work there is a thin line between what is fictional and what is non-fiction, and what is real emotion and what is art… There is a cultural element where I let (or seem to let) people in on American Indian cultures. There are also elements in the work about American culture that everyone can identify with and that makes for an understanding that we are all more alike than different.” (Video Data Bank)
Caroline Monnet (Anishinaabe/French) is a multidisciplinary artist from Outaouais, Quebec. Her work has been programmed internationally at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Toronto International Film Festival’ Sundance Film Festival; Cannes Film Festival; the Whitney Biennial; the Toronto Biennale of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Montréal; Arsenal Contemporary, NY; and the National Art Gallery, Ottawa. In 2016, she was selected for the Cinéfondation residency in Paris. Monnet is recipient of the 2020 Pierre-Ayot award, the 2020 Sobey Art Award, the REVEAL Indigenous Art Awards and the Mellon Indigenous Artist in Residence at McGill University . She is based in Montreal and represented by Blouin Division Gallery.
Colectivo Los Ingràvidos (Tehuacán) is a Mexican film collective founded in 2012 to dismantle the commercial and corporate audiovisual grammar and its embedded ideology. The collective is inspired by the historical avant-gardes and their commitment to using both form and content against alienating realities. Their methods combine digital and analog mediums, interventions on archival materials, mythology, social protests, and documentary poetry. Their radical experimentations on documentary and cinematographic devices produce images, both visual and auditory that are political possibilities in their own right. Their work has played at festivals including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Images Punto de Vista, FLEX, CROSSROADS, Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, Media City Film Festival and others. Their recent collection of poetry SOLARES was published by Evidence Press at the Centre for Expanded Poetics.
Thirza Cuthand (Cree) was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1978 and grew up in Saskatoon. Since 1995 she has been making short experimental narrative films about sexuality, madness, Queer identity and love, and Indigeneity which have screened in festivals internationally including in the Tribeca Film Festival; Mix Brasil Festival of Sexual Diversity; ImagineNATIVE, Toronto; Frameline, San Francisco; Outfest, Los Angeles and the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival. Her 2020 video game Bipolar Disorder is available for download at www.originstories.dev. She is a non-binary Butch boy who uses She/They pronouns. She is of Plains Cree and Scots descent, a member of Little Pine First Nation and resides in Toronto.
New Red Order is a public secret society facilitated by core contributors Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil and Jackson Polys. In our current period of existential and environmental catastrophe, desires for Indigenous epistemologies increase and enterprising settlers labor to extract this understanding as if it were a natural resource. New Red Order—emerging out of contradistinction from the Improved Order of Red Men, a secret society that “plays Indian”—calls attraction toward indigeneity into question, yet promotes this desire, and enjoins potential non-Indigenous accomplices to participate in the co-examination and expansion of Indigenous agency.
James Luna (Payómkawichum, 1950–2018) was an artist, performer and educator who lived on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in California. His performances and one-man shows have been exhibited widely across the United States. The History of the Luiseno People has been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Robert Flaherty Seminar and the San Antonio Cine Festival and received the 1993 Best Short Subject Award at the American Indian Motion Picture Awards in San Francisco.
Cousins and Kin is presented with the generous support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.