Nicholas Galanin: In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra

Nicholas Galanin created this work with the same steel tubing used to construct the U.S.-Mexico border wall, also echoing its 30-foot height. The metal was cut and reassembled to spell out LAND in a format reminiscent of Robert Indiana’s 1966 sculpture, LOVE. The anti-climbing plate seen atop the border wall appears here on the upper letters, and the text repeats in four layers to create a dynamic, open structure. As our point of view changes, the text shifts between legibility and abstraction.

Galanin is a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (b.1979 Sitka; Lingít and Unangax̂). As an Indigenous person, he practices subsistence in his homeland. For him, the free movement of life is essential, and all life is deeply connected to Land. Galanin adapts aspects of pop art and minimalism, such as repetition, text, and industrial production to protest oppressive systems of division and control. The title, In every language there is Land / En cada lengua hay una Tierra, combines English and Spanish, two languages imposed in North America since colonization. The work reminds us that Indigenous peoples persist and permeate borders despite the forcible removal of rights, languages, and access to Land and Water. For Galanin, “barriers to Land directly reflect barriers to love, love for Land, for community and for future generations.”

Nicholas Baume
Artistic & Executive Director, Public Art Fund

About the Artist

Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979, Sitka, AK) creates art rooted in his perspective as an Indigenous man connected to the land and culture to which he belongs. His work is embedded with incisive observation and critical thinking to advocate for social and environmental justice. Through concept, form, image, and sound, Galanin expands and refocuses the intersections of culture, centering Indigeneity. His works are vessels for knowledge, culture and technology—inherently political, generous, unflinching, and poetic. Deftly engaging with past, present and future, Galanin celebrates the beauty, knowledge and resilience of Indigenous people. Avoiding binaries and categorization, Galanin’s multilayered practice seeks to envision, build and support Indigenous sovereignty. 

Over the past two decades Galanin’s work has ranged across media, materials and processes, including powerful examples of public art. In 2020 Galanin excavated the shape of the shadow of the Capt. James Cook statue in Hyde Park for the Biennale of Sydney, examining the effects of colonization on land, critiquing anthropological bias, and ultimately suggesting the burial of the statue and others like it. In 2021 he created an analog to the Hollywood sign for the Desert X Biennial in Palm Springs CA, which reads “INDIAN LAND”, directly advocating for and supporting the Land back and Real Rent initiatives. Ultimately, his practice invites us to analyze and rethink the assumptions of embedded power structures and revalue those of Indigeneity, including care for land, community, and future generations.  

Galanin holds a BFA from London Guildhall University in Jewellery Design and an MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts from Massey University in New Zealand, prior to which he apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers in his community; he is represented by Peter Blum Gallery in New York, and his music is released by Sub Pop Records in Seattle. Galanin lives and works with his family on Lingít Aani, Sitka, Alaska.

Hear more from the artist! Visit the Public Art Fund digital guide on the free Bloomberg Connects app for exclusive audio content on this exhibition (type in lookup #4)

Installation Photos



Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn, Brooklyn Bridge Park

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