Peter Blum Gallery is pleased to present the newly released photographic edition of Nicholas Galanin's monumental project, Never Forget. The work documents the site-specific installation that is currently on view from March to September, 2021 outside of Palm Springs for Desert X 2021.
For Nicholas Galanin, a Tlingit and Unangax̂ artist and musician, memory and land are inevitably entwined. The 45-foot letters of Never Forget reference the Hollywood sign, which initially spelled out HOLLYWOODLAND and was erected to promote a whites-only development. Its timing coincided with a development in Palm Springs that also connected to the film industry: Studio contracts limited actors’ travel, contributing to the city’s rise as playground and refuge of the stars. Meanwhile, the white settler mythology of America as the land of the free, home of the brave was promoted in the West, and the landscape was cinematized through the same lens. Never Forget asks settler landowners to participate in the work by transferring land titles and management to local Indigenous communities. The work is a call to action and a reminder that land acknowledgments become only performative when they do not explicitly support the land back movement. Not only does the work transmit a shockwave of historical correction, but also promises to do so globally through social media.
Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979) lives and works in Sitka, Alaska. He earned his BFA at London Guildhall University, his MFA at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, and he has apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers. Galanin was a standout participant in both the 2020 Biennale of Sydney and the 2019 Whitney Biennial. He has also participated in the 2017 Venice Biennale in the Native American Pavilion. Galanin’s work is in permanent collections such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Detroit Institute of Arts, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Denver Art Museum, Princeton, University Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Cornell University Art Museum among others.
"The original Hollywoodland sign [erected in 1923] was an advertisement for a real estate development for white-only land purchases. This work is essentially the opposite: a call to landowners and others to invite them to join the landback movement."
— Nicholas Galanin
"Nodding to the history of terrorism against Native Americans more than 9/11, Galanin’s 'Never Forget' turns the standard acknowledgment of Indigenous land rights into a monumental admission of wrongdoing. Near the Palm Springs Visitor Center and Aerial Tramway, long considered the gateway to the city, Galanin’s message looms large: a 45-foot-tall sign that says “Indian Land” in white lettering styled like the Hollywood sign, which spelled Hollywoodland when it was first erected in 1923."
— Jori Finkel, "Desert X Artists Dig Beneath the Sandy Surface," The New York Times, March 12, 2021
"Galanin has succeeded in creating land art that is as physically grounded and as conceptually abstract as the definition of land itself...Land art has a long history of proffering encompassing environments, from Robert Smithson’s 1970 Spiral Jetty to James Turrell’s ongoing Roden Crater...Galanin is a worthy heir to these traditions because he brings something new and important through his connection of contemporary practice to a far older heritage."
— Jonathon Keats, "In The Southern California Desert, An Artist Has Transformed The Iconic Hollywood Sign Into An Icon For Land Repatriation," Forbes, March 31, 2021
Watch Nicholas Galanin discuss Never Forget.
Courtesy of Desert X.
Artist Book - Nicholas Galanin: Never Forget
Nicholas Galanin's forthcoming artist book is dedicated to a single work, Never Forget, that has been in development over the past three years. This piece, beyond the visual component, is a call to action. A portion of the sales of all remaining copies of the book will go toward Galanin's campaign to acquire legal title to Agua Caliente homelands for the Agua Caliente tribal community.
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