19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

Nathan Coley | 2015

The text sculpture A Place Beyond Belief was originally created for New York after 9/11 and refers to the need for the city to reinvent itself and become “a place beyond belief”. In other contexts, these words remain highly topical and acquire new layers of meaning. The new work, Palace, consists of five separate words. They can be interpreted as a motto for Bruges but they also refer to the five rights that everyone has according to Islam. The Burg is the geographical and metaphorical heart of Bruges. With the town hall and administrative services on one side of this square and the Basilica of the Holy Blood on the other, it represents both a political and a religious centre. Nathan Coley places a statement here in large illuminated letters: ‘A Place Beyond Belief’. This piece originally referred to 9/11. The words come from a radio interview with a New York resident who said that for the city to move forward after the attacks it would have to find new ways to think and to perceive that would lead to “a place beyond belief”, Coley has installed this work in various locations since its first appearance. With each occasion, the specific context in which it is shown adds new, topical layers of meaning to the work. The Stadshallen and Belfry courtyard is a calm, enclosed space just outside the hustle and bustle of the Market Square. It forms a haven for a moment’s withdrawal into quiet reflection. Coley places five separate illuminated sculptures here, spelling the words BELIEF, MIND, LAND, WEALTH and LIFE. They could be a motto for Bruges, words from an historic document or a fragment from a song about the city. But they also refer to the five rights that everyone has according to Islam.





Nathan Coley
The work of Nathan Coley (1967, Glasgow, United Kingdom) explores discrepancies existing within the built world of architecture and the city as it is actually experienced. He is interested in the idea of “public” space, and his practice explores the ways in which architecture becomes invested with meaning. Across a range of media, Coley investigates what the built environment reveals about the people it surrounds and how the social and individual response to it is culturally conditioned. Using the readymade as a means to take something from the world and then re-place it, he addresses the ritual forms we use to articulate our beliefs. By turning something specific into something general, he tests its function as a form of social representation.

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