“We all do come from a place”: A conversation with filmmaker Fox Maxy [Video]

On November 5, 2020 Block Cinema welcomed California-based artist Fox Maxy (Ipai Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum) for a screening and conversation of his work. The works in the program, California Girls (2018), Maat Means Land (2020), and San Diego (2020), offered a prismatic and timely vision of the artist’s home state, viewed through the lens of Indigenous identity and culture. Drawing on the visual language of Instagram and the associative logic of experimental montage, Maxy’s practice imagines strategies of knowing and caring for the land–and for resisting the forces of colonialism and extraction that threaten it.

Following the screening, Maxy was joined in discussion by filmmaker, photographer, and University of Chicago postdoctoral fellow in Anthropology Teresa Montoya (Diné) as well as Michael Metzger, the Block’s Curator of Media Arts. The program was presented in conjunction with the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University.

Watch Now – Discussion with Fox Maxy

From the Discussion

Our greeting word in Kumeyaay is Haawka. It doesn’t really translate to hello…It just kind of means may the fire inside you keep burning. It doesn’t really mean soul either. It of refers to a person’s passion, a person’s role in their community, their reason for living, or their purpose on this planet. … We still do have reminders of our language and reminders of what our community does mean and how we can help each other out …Me being a filmmaker, it’s a birth right. It’s a role for me. It’s something that I can do for my community. And it’s not just a hobby or a job.

Fox Maxy on filmmaking

Right now, a lot of people are down to talk about uncomfortable things, so that brought me to think about what the word “Indigenous” means really. And when you look it up, Indigenous means just to come from a place.

And so for me, that kind of blew my mind because I’m like Whoa, natives use this word all the time, but honestly everyone can apply that term. Literally the word belongs to everyone. So, I just think it’s interesting that we all do come from a place and we all do have roots that are very important and very much tied to our personalities and our ways of living. We have these things that come naturally to us. Everything is tied to where we come from.

Fox Maxy on indigeneity

Mainly I just want to make people know that there’s no rules. I don’t want to tell anyone what to do. And I definitely don’t want to make anyone feel like they have to be like me, but I do really want to stress to people that they could do whatever they want. I do like the idea that everybody is an artist, even if you can’t draw or whatever you think about your creative skills. I do think that everybody is an artist or a storyteller in some way.

Fox Maxy on creative freedom

Program Introduction by Michael Metzger

Header image courtesy of Teen Vogue by Kava Gorna – Read more at Diana Tourjee, “The Two-Spirit, Indigenous Filmmaker You Need to Know,” Teen Vogue (November 2020)

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