Nathan Coley: A Place Beyond Belief


exhibition Details

This simple four-word phrase set in lights by Scottish artist Nathan Coley is taken from a radio interview aired during the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington DC. The young woman interviewed recounted a story from the time and in this phrase appears to reflect on thinking anew and looking again.

Coley removes the words from the context of their original utterance and restages them in the temporary architecture of public announcements – of theatre, fairgrounds, billboards. The clarity and emotion in the original context is deliberately rendered diffuse and ambiguous. It’s no longer obvious who made the statement – whose thinking it belongs to. Such declarations of belief are often used by Coley to direct attention to generalised ideas of belonging and community, which exist in a range of settings – from advertising to religion.

This is the fifth in an ongoing series of illuminated text works by Coley, who uses readymade phrases or chance encounters to create resonance in public spaces. Here, the combination of enigmatic meaning and raw architectural scaffold seems like a grand proclamation for an invisible event and create a sense of unease.

Image credit:

Nathan Coley
A Place Beyond Belief, 2019, (installation detail),
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
Gift of the Auckland Contemporary Art Trust.

Curated by
Natasha Conland
North Atrium