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Photo: courtesy of the artist 


The Defining Artworks of 2020
By The Editors of ARTnews, Andy Battaglia
December 9, 2020 


6. Nicholas Galanin, Shadow on the Land, an excavation and bush burial (2020)

Nicholas Galanin has held up and stared down issues related to Indigenous culture from his home base in Alaska, and he made a monumental move across the globe with a sculpture (or whatever might be the opposite of sculpture) at the Biennale of Sydney in Australia. Shadow on the Land, an excavation and bush burial suggests a kind of crime scene, with a fenced-off area of grass dug up in the shape of a grave lying in wait for a statue of 18th-century British Royal Navy captain James Cook, who has long been a national symbol for Australia. Violence visited upon Galanin’s Tlingit and Unangax╠é heritage resonated with similar histories within Australia’s Aboriginal culture, and there was no mistaking the sort of pent-up roar in a powerfully disquieting gesture. 

—Andy Battaglia

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