Thursday, 22 May 2014

Nathan Coley – The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh - GoMa, Glasgow, until February 1st 2015

Faith and the lack of it is everywhere in Nathan Coley's work. For his
contribution to Generation, GoMA have chosen to restage 'The Lamp of
Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh', in which Coley built
miniature cardboard models of every church, synagogue, mosque and
temple in Scotland's capital, then placed side by side in what became a
kind of deconsecrated village.

“It's always nice meeting an old friend you haven't spoken to for many
years,” Coley says of revisiting 'The Lamp of Sacrifice', which has
lain in storage for the last decade after being first seen in 2004 at
Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery. “I'm feeling excited about it being in
Glasgow, and I'm interested in how it transfers to the west coast, even
though the metaphor will remain the same.”

'The Lamp of Sacrifice' takes its title from Victorian artist John
Ruskin's 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture', in which he stated that 'It
is not the church we want, but the sacrifice.'

“Ruskin looked at what he saw as the differences between buildings and
architecture,” Coley explains, “in that buildings are purely
functional, but architecture has meaning in some way. So the pyramids
are architecture for how they were made rather than what they look
like. The fact that four generations of slaves built them gives them
their meaning. By sacrificing my time and my labour to build these
things out of cardboard, which is a material with no value, these
places of worship become mine.”

The thread that runs through Coley's work is plain to see.

“All the works are exactly the same thing,” he says. “Is that
discussion about faith and religion because I was born and bred in
Glasgow? I can't deny that, but as a child I was aware of the divide. I
don't have faith in any religion. They're all as bad as each other.”


The List, May 2014


ends

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