A Place Beyond Belief by Nathan Coley


Nathan Coley


Now – 30 November 2020


Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Wellesley St East, Auckland


This simple, four-word phrase set in lights by Scottish artist Nathan Coley is taken from a radio interview aired during the ten-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 ready-made 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.

nathan coley

A Place Beyond Belief (installation detail) by Nathan Coley, 2019.

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