Nathan Coley considers the way architecture reflects the social landscape. Guided by an interest in public spaces, and how structures become conceptually layered by history, the 2007 Turner Prize shortlisted artist looks into what a built environment reveals about its surrounding people. Using ready-made frames that are easily installed, the compositions address ritual forms through which we articulate beliefs. Each piece references a specific concept, from the deconstruction of Shaker furniture to Islamic values, frequently transforming the individual into a larger discussion about memory.
New sculptures and text works are featured, including the the two-piece partnership, Tate Modern on Fire (2017) and Paul (2015) which highlight the geographical relationship of Tate with St. Paul’s Cathedral – located directly across the Thames – and the associated values that accompany this connection. Both religion and culture, and past and present are combined at the centre of London. The two architectural models represent different generations of belief: the former is an internationally iconic building for its rich arts and heritage, yet the latter is a secular place of worship for the 21st century.
In Palace (2015), a large-scale piece of text combines with a group of sculptures to deconstruct self-assemble Shaker furniture. This strand of homeware design comes from a religious group who are grounded in the guiding principles of simplicity and utility. In this series, the conflation of domesticity and faith is addressed, alongside using building as metaphor. Tate Modern on Fire can either function as a proposition or a warning – what initially seems as cultural iconoclasm is revealed to possess much deeper meanings.
Nathan Coley, Parafin Gallery, London, 10 February – 18 March. www.parafin.co.uk
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1. Nathan Coley, YOU CREATE WHAT YOU WILL (2014). Courtesy of the artist.