Nicholas Galanin is a multi-disciplinary artist. Galanin’s work engages contemporary culture from his perspective rooted in connection to land.
He embeds incisive observation into his work, investigating intersections of culture and concept in form, image and sound. Galanin’s works embody critical thought as vessels of knowledge, culture and technology – inherently political, generous, unflinching, and poetic. Galanin engages past, present and future to expose intentionally obscured collective memory and barriers to the acquisition of knowledge. His works critique commodification of culture, while contributing to the continuum of Tlingit art. Galanin employs materials and processes that expand dialogue on Indigenous artistic production, and how culture can be carried.
His work is in numerous public and private collections and exhibited worldwide. Galanin apprenticed with master carvers, earned his BFA at London Guildhall University, and his MFA at Massey University, he lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska.
'Threat Return’ (2023)
At St John’s Gardens, adjacent to St George’s Hall, Nicholas Galanin presents ‘Threat Return’ (2023): a gathering of overturned, cast-bronze handwoven baskets, modified to resemble burglary masks. The seven bronze sculptures sit upon concrete plinths, referencing busts and monuments which surround the piece in St John’s Gardens and within the nearby galleries and museums, many of which celebrate men and families who made their wealth in shipping and merchant trade. Galanin references museum displays of Indigenous North American and African basketry and cinematic portrayals of thieves via ski-mask cut-outs incised into each basket, contemplating the commodification, reproduction, theft, and imitation of indigenous cultural traditions. The work is a reflection on what is considered to be theft, a meditation on the reflexivity of threat, and the return of energy as well as cultural property. Galanin insists on the persistence of Indigenous connection to land and culture which is embedded in bodies, memories, traditions, objects and languages.
Galanin’s work ‘kʼidéin yéi jeené (‘you’re doing such a good job’)’ (2021) is presented at Bluecoat. Sampling words from the Lingít language, which is spoken by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America, the work centres the love, safety and connection experienced and shared within these communities. The work criticises and rejects the false historical narratives and generational trauma inflicted by settler-colonialism – the ongoing system of oppression based on genocide that continues to displace and eliminate indigenous people and cultures, confining them to marginal existence. Instead, it centres and celebrates indigenous families and communities, reflecting the light of their children against the shadows of punishment for practicing their cultures, ceremonies, and languages.
Showing at Bluecoat
Tuesday to Sunday 11:00am–5:00pm