The Burg is the geographical and metaphorical heart of Bruges. With the town hall and administrative services on one side of this square and the Basilica of the Holy Blood on the other, it represents both a political and a religious centre. Nathan Coley placed a statement here in large illuminated letters : 'A Place Beyond Belief'. The words come from a radio interview with a New York resident who said that for the city to move forward after the attacks of 9/11 it would have to find new ways to think and to perceive that would lead to "a place beyond belief". Coley has installed this work in various locations since its first appearance. With each occasion, the specific context in which it is shown adds new, topical layers of meaning to the work.
The Stadshallen and Belfry courtyard is a calm, enclosed space just outside the hustle and bustle of the Market Square. It forms a haven for a moment's withdrawal into quiet reflection. So thought Coley, who placed five separate illuminated sculptures here, spelling the words BELIEF, MIND, LAND, WEALTH and LIFE. They could be a motto for Bruges, words from an historic document or a fragment from a song about the city. But they also refer to the five rights that everyone has according to Islam.
The work of Nathan Coley (b. 1967, Glasgow, UK) explores discrepancies existing within the built world of architecture and the city as it is actually experienced. He is interested in the idea of “public” space, and his practice explores the ways in which architecture becomes invested with meaning.