In the video “Muhheakantuk – Everything Has a Name” from Matthew Buckingham the voiceover says: “But as soon as we follow one line, or one river and not another, a journey emerges, even it is only a dream. And of course that journey unavoidable becomes a story. Spaces that have been abstracted, once more become particulair places…”
The 40-minute-long film features a single continuous shot from a helicopter as it traveled above the Hudson River. The film is accompanied by a narration by the artist meditating on the region’s turbulent history, and asks the question, “What role does social memory play in defining the present moment?”
Buckingham’s film explores the social and political impact of the relatively brief but violent period of contact between Dutch colonists and the Lower Hudson River Valley’s indigenous Lenape people. By examining how maps are constructed, how places are named (and thereby owned), and what stories are left silent, the film exposes the consequences of Henry Hudson’s journey. Buckingham’s narrative reminds us that “The river that became known as the Hudson was not discovered—it was invented and re-invented.”
The film describes how differences between the languages of the Lenape and colonists were integral to how each group experienced concepts of place, but that for all people, maps and other abstractions of place are like histories: condensed versions that contain only shades of truth.