Nicholas Galanin’s work engages contemporary culture from his perspective, rooted in connection to land. Shadow on the Land, an excavation and bush burial is an excavation on Cockatoo Island of the shadow cast by the Captain Cook statue in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
Imagine a future where the statues of veneration that mark our public landscape today have long been forgotten, buried beneath the earth. In this speculative archaeological-style dig, Nicholas Galanin ‘uncovers’ or ‘excavates’ the shadow cast by the Captain Cook statue that currently resides in Sydney’s Hyde Park. The work rests between a possible past or future burial, a presence through absence of an object that today very much still functions as a celebration of colonial heroics. Inverting the gaze of archaeology, which has often framed Indigenous cultures as belonging to the past, this work imagines a possible future where the memories of settler colonialism have become distant and buried. In evoking the temporality of the earth, this work also puts into perspective the young though devastating history of British invasion and settlement and imagines a possible Indigenous future where the land begins to heal colonial wounds while still remembering.
“Culture is rooted in connection to land. Like land, culture cannot be contained. I am inspired by generations of Tlingit and Unangax̂ creative production and knowledge, connected to the land I belong to. From this perspective, I engage across cultures with contemporary conditions. My process of creation is a constant pursuit of freedom and vision for the present and future. Using Indigenous and non-Indigenous technologies and materials, I resist romanticisation, categorisation and limitation. I use my work to explore adaptation, resilience, survival, active cultural amnesia, dream, memory, cultural resurgence, connection to and disconnection from the land." The Artist