Case Study- ‘A Place Beyond Belief’

Case Study: ‘A Place Beyond Belief’ By Nathan Coley

  1. a_place_beyond_belief__prishtina4
  2. Taken from– accessed 8th May 2016

My first response to this piece was;

Moody, dark, where is it?  is it a good place? is it a church? is it part of an advert for something? Having your name in lights. Is it a factory? outdoors, lit up for all to see, parkland? desert?

I feel it is saying that somewhere is either beyond belief in awe and amazement or that it is beyond belief as if something bad has happened. You cannot actually believe that this ‘thing’ that happened, has really happened. In order to know what the piece is saying you would have to know where it is and the situations behind it.

I watched this video of the artist speaking about his inspiration behind the piece.

The way he opens the video immediately casts your mind back to that time when 9/11 happened and as if you are on that train travelling through New York in a state of disbelief. Everyone remembers where they were on that day and it is difficult to comprehend still when you watch it again on TV even 15 years later. The tiredness and confusion he describes of the passenger is exactly right. When something big happens in your life especially something like that and you have lived through it, you do feel detached and worried and as if the enormity just won’t sink in. The hatred the passengers felt toward the Sikh passenger is upsetting. His feelings are very strong for the situation, the other passengers being upset, the hatred and the unknown.

A kind of torture as described by the artist. I feel like I am there with them, watching him and all the other passengers and I want to say stop it. The Sikh giving the newborn baby money and then everybody is in tears when he leaves the train is really heartbreaking, so yes New York needed to find a place beyond belief. I feel it represents hope. It had to change again to be somewhere that people could love and feel safe again even after something so terrible.

Taken from-– accessed 8th May 2016

Looking at more of the artists work of the same piece, I was drawn to this one.

a_place_beyond_belief__prishtina1 – accessed 8th May 2016

This piece was installed in the National Gallery of Kosovo in Pristina. The artist says-

‘By putting the piece in Kosovo the piece ‘loses its original context and goes out into the world to find new life’  ‘can this place become a place beyond belief’

It was placed for a while between the church that Milosevic started to build, and it now stands as a testimony not just to religious belief, but to the misuse of religious belief. It is also next to the library which is ‘between a beacon of hope and a beacon of destruction’

Taken from- 8th May 2016

A duplicate piece has been requested to be installed in the parliamentary building to remind politicians not to repeat past mistakes.

The contextual information of the piece is that we need to be more understanding about how art can create something that may help draw our memories into thinking differently. I can say I like it very much and that it is wonderful and makes me think deeper about things but it is important also that the artists initial thoughts and intentions when creating the piece and how they may want it to be seen and felt by others are in place. You do have to read further into it and about the stories and places attached to the pieces to understand their creation. It has become a message of hope and a cry from a nation that is recognised in history as a war zone into somewhere that is trying to turn itself around. Never forgetting, just moving forward.

‘Government buildings in Pristina, Petrit Selimi, Kosovo’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, sees culture as a vital tool for nation-building. ‘What do people outside know about Kosovo?’ he says. ‘They think it’s still a war zone; they think of refugees’

Taken from- 8th May 2016

Looking at the artists other works, I can see a similar theme of allowing the viewer to see and interpret what they see as their own until they know the background or make up their own minds, maybe taking a piece of the meaning for themselves.


Taken from-– accessed 8th May 2016

The Honour series is a collection of photographs showing protests or gatherings where signs full of messages have been covered over in gold leaf. The text has been removed making it unreadable but as the viewer I don’t focus on that I focus on the gold. This leaves the protester with nothing to say, you have to work out for yourself what it is and what they are marching and fighting for . Where are they? Is it a rally?.


Taken from- -accessed 8th May 2016
Taken from- 8th May 2016

heavenaccalow (1)

Taken from – 8th May 2016

I chose this piece as it reminds me of a Talking Heads song. It is not to dissimilar to the first research piece as that it is cast the same and lit the same but has a different message. What is the message? Is it a homage to something? Is it a place he knows called heaven? Is it a religious argument? Is it just the song lyric to Talking Heads Heaven as he likes them? A song that I will now be singing for the next four hours around the house?

From what I have seen of Coleys work, I think that they are based on deep connections to people, sayings, places, time and thoughts. I like how it is almost not explained until you read more or listen to the artist speaking about a piece. I like that his work is left for the viewer to understand and for them to realise what it is they want from it. His religious attention to pieces and where they are situated is also good and they get recognition for this from the countries involved. He seems to strive to draw attention to world issues of religion and society and more often than not succeeds. His motivations I feel come from situations and the people who are involved in them. How they see the events, what happens to them and those around them. The idea that these events can be changed in peoples minds to help and remember things is good. Giving people the hope that it will all be OK.

All websites and links accessed 8th May 2016


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