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Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens

Curator’s statement

Like many of Coley’s works, the sculpture forces us to consider our position in the world and to question the authority with which statements are made. The viewer is confronted with a series of unsettling questions: Why is this here, next to the Cathedral? Does this mean that Heaven is boring? Is the idea of nothing ever happening a good thing? Is it an official proclamation? What do I do with this information?

At every juncture, Coley is placing the onus of engagement onto the viewer. There is no prescriptive sense of what the answers might be, it is the process of critical thought that is important.

The location of the work, adjacent to Lund’s world famous 12th century Cathedral, creates the conditions for a conversation about the relationship between the rational and the spiritual in contemporary society. In presenting the work, Coley may be posing a theological question: ‘Once transcendence is achieved, what else is there left to do?’ On the other hand, the statement might be reassuring, presenting an idea of the afterlife as a place in which nothing changes and peace prevails into infinity. The work encourages us to query our assumptions about time and space and consider what might lie beyond these categories.

For all his text sculptures, Coley appropriates quotes and statements from historical documents, popular culture, radio programmes and conversations. The wording, and title of ‘Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens’, is taken from the lyrics of a Talking Heads song from 1979.

The work assumes new meaning according to its context. It has travelled to Lund from the Kunstmuseum Kloster in Magdeburg, Germany, an 11th c. Romanesque building. Before that, it was installed on a rooftop in the English seaside town of Folkestone. In Lund, it will develop its own story, no doubt enriched by its location next to Sweden’s most visited church, adding significantly to its cumulative narrative.

Jes Fernie, 2017

More information on Nathan Coley’s work can be found on


Alex Garthwaite and
Andy McGeorge,
Nathan Coley Studio.
Photos by Peter Westrup.

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