Nicholas Galanin: Carry a Song / Disrupt an Anthem
1. Galanin exposes intentionally obscured collective memory and barriers to the acquisition of knowledge while celebrating the resilience and strength of Indigenous people and their culture
2. Participated in the Venice Biennale 2017’s Native American Pavilion and in the Whitney Biennial 2019
Nicholas Galanin works from his experience as a Tlingit and Unangax̂ artist, simultaneously exploring his Indigenous identity and contemporary art practice. With a keen observation of past and present, Galanin exposes intentionally obscured collective memory and barriers to the acquisition of knowledge while celebrating the resilience and strength of Indigenous people and their culture. As Galanin says, the exhibition’s title, Carry a Song / Disrupt an Anthem implies that "to carry the songs of Indigenous people, to carry the songs of the land, is inherently disruptive of the national anthem." Expressing his art through sculpture, installation, photography, video, performance, and textile-based work, Galanin asserts cultural, political, and creative sovereignty for Indigenous people.
In White Noise, American Prayer Rug, a version of which was exhibited at the 2019 Whitney Biennial in New York, a woven image of static on a television set offers a critical analysis of American culture. He comments on its relationship with white noise used to drown out unwanted sounds and mask alternative voices. In The Imaginary Indian (Totem Pole), Galanin juxtaposes the form of a carved totem overlaid with Victorian Era floral designs. The installation both confronts viewers with their assumptions about Indigenous art while simultaneously reflecting on the attempted assimilation of the culture by Europeans. Galanin’s contemporary practice builds upon an Indigenous artistic continuum and responsibility to the land, thereby contributing urgent criticality and vision through resonant and layered works.
Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979) lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska. He earned his BFA at London Guildhall University (2003), his MFA at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand (2007), and he has apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers. Galanin participated in the Venice Biennale (2017) in the Native American Pavilion, in the Whitney Biennial (2019), and the Honolulu Biennial (2019). He has been invited to participate in the Biennale of Sydney (2020). Galanin’s work is in permanent collections such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Denver Art Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Anchorage Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, and the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, among others.
Carry a Song / Disrupt an Anthem is the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York and it follows his acclaimed participation in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.