Power 100

Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld


Nicholas Galanin

Artist - Working against colonial borders, land ownership and the complexities of identity

91 in 2023

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Photo: Merritt Johnson

For a new public sculpture in Brooklyn, Galanin was able to divert and utilise steel that would have otherwise been used in the construction of the US–Mexico border wall. Instead, he used the material to spell ‘land’ in a style recalling Robert Indiana’s LOVE works. The sculpture wasn’t just a protest against Trump’s (and now Biden’s) wall, but was, in keeping with the Alaskan Lingít/Unangax̂ artist’s wider practice – on show at his solo exhibition at Site Santa Fe in New Mexico from October, and at the Liverpool Biennial – against colonial borders in general, as well as a rumination on historic demarcation, land ownership and the complexities of identity. It was in that same vein that, in November, Galanin and artist Merritt Johnson removed their collaborative work, Creation with her Children (2017), a figure wearing seventeenth-century dress stitched from mass-produced textile, from a group show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in protest of the US government’s military aid to Israel.

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