Nathan Coley: In Memory 2010
In Memory takes the form of a small, private cemetery, placed within a poured concrete enclosure. The names with which the gravestones had been inscribed have been blanked out by the artist to create an unsettling erasure.
For In Memory, Nathan Coley acquired gravestones, that for various reasons had been removed from their former sites, and had the names with which they had been inscribed blanked out. A traditional sculptural gesture – that of carving – here joined an iconoclastic act and an appropriation, in the tradition of Duchamp’s readymades. The result is a set of unsettled and unsettling objects, in which the scoring out of a name at once suggests the erasure wrought by death itself and draws particular attention to precisely what is generic or cultural in private monuments – namely those forms of address or dedication that frame mourning.
In Memory creates a space and place, apart from its surroundings, giving us a space to reflect on what separates the living and the dead, and on how we demarcate that separation.
In addition to In Memory, Jupiter Artland’s permanent collection includes another artwork by Coley titled You Imagine What You Desire.
“In Memory is not about me, it’s about you. The less I say about it, the more chance it has to shift and move. Monuments and graveyards are, of course, the most legitimate form of public art. They are objects that act as substitutes for people now gone, active things symbolising the absence of a form. I think of In Memory as an artwork for Bonnington House, more than for the current family living there. Most cultures bury their dead, and many country estates have graveyards. It seemed to me that there was a moment missing from the woods, so I thought about building an enclosure that allowed you to sit still for a bit, to daydream a little and to contemplate your lot.”
Nathan Coley (b 1967, Scotland) investigates the social aspects of our built environment, working across a diverse range of media including public and gallery-based sculpture, photography, drawing, and video. Interested in public space, the artist explores how architecture comes to be invested – and reinvested – with meaning, and how through the competing practices of place these claims and significations come into conflict.
Coley was born, lives and works in Glasgow. The artist graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1989 with a BA in Fine Art. He has enjoyed solo exhibitions at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2004), the Centro Cultural de Belem, Lisbon (2001) and the Westfalischer Kunstverein, Munster (2000). His work was included in ‘Days Like These’, a group exhibition at Tate Britain (2003), and in the ‘British Art Show 6’ at BALTIC (2005).Recent solo exhibitions include: De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, UK (2008); ’46 Brooklands Gardens’, Jaywick, Essex, England, UK (2008); Haunch of Venison, Berlin, Germany (2008); ‘Nathan Coley’, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2009); ‘Nathan Coley’, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne and ‘There Will Be No Miracles Here’, The National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010). Recent group exhibitions include: ‘Tales of Time and Space’, Folkestone Triennial, Folkestone, UK (2008); ‘Mythologies’, Haunch of Venison London, UK (2009); ‘Communities without Propinquities’, Milton Keynes Art Gallery, London (2011); ‘Big Brother: Artists and Tyrants’, Dinard, France (2011) and ‘Crisis Commission’, Somerset House, London (2012). Coley’s work is represented in many European collections. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007.