A Place Beyond Belief

Nathan Coley (UK)


Nathan Coley’s evocative installation recalled the testimony of a young woman made in New York in the wake of 9/11.

“A young woman sits in a New York subway carriage, a number of days after the terrorist attacks on the twin towers. It is early morning, and the city is grudgingly back at work. Like many of her fellow passengers, she is tired, emotionally fragile, confused and angry – still trying to come to terms with what has happened to her city.

A Sikh man sits opposite her, wearing a bright orange turban. There is a strong tangible sense of hatred from the passengers towards the man – a feeling of raw anger and disgust. The man’s eyes are averted, the commuters stares un-replied. His head is bowed, he is sobbing.

The train travels on, stopping at the next station, the doors open and close, passengers get on and off. After a few stops and more torturous minutes, the man gathers his belongings and gets up to leave. Standing by the exit is a young black woman with a newly born baby. As the man approaches, he reaches into his pockets and takes out a handful of dollars. Without saying anything, he shoves the money into the folds of the baby’s clothes and exits the train. The doors close, and the remaining passengers burst into tears.

At that moment, the woman realises that for New York to get past the attack, to move on and rebuild itself, it has to think anew, it has to look again. It has to get to a place beyond belief.”

Over the past 15 years Nathan Coley has worked in a diverse range of media including public and gallery sited sculpture, photography, drawing and video. His practice focuses on how political and religious ideologies come to shape and determine our built environment. Notions of faith and religion, state and power, sanctuary and refuge, immunity and frontier, spiritual and the rational are recurrently explored within his work. He investigates how we come to understand these ideologies according to different locations, contexts and personal perspectives. Born in Glasgow, Nathan Coley studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1985 and 1989. In 2007 he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize.


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