White Noise, American Prayer Rug

Artist: Nicholas Galanin
installation | Wool, cotton | 2134x3048mm | 2018

Woven in the image of static on a television set, Nicholas Galanin’s White Noise, American Prayer Rug offers a critical diagnosis of contemporary American life. Although prayer rugs typically serve as movable sites of devotion, this one probes American culture’s relationship with white noise, an acoustic vibration sometimes used to drown out unwanted sounds. Galanin, whose work often examines the complexities of contemporary Indigenous identity, culture, and representation, has identified race as a critical conceptual element of this exploration, pointing out that “whiteness as a construct has been used historically throughout the world to obliterate the voices and rights of generations of people and cultures regardless of complexion.” This other form of white noise, he asserts, has in recent years become a “source of increasing intolerance and hate.” (Image courtesy the artist. Photograph by Craig Smith)


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)