Studio Nathan Coley

Fear Of Death (for Bertrand Russell) 2009


Painted Wood and mixed media
3 @ 242cm x 50cm x 50cm


'Mythologies' Haunch of Venison, London

Other Information

Subsequently Shown:
Bergen Kunsthall, Norway 2009

Fear of Death

Rory Mitchell

Interested in the relationship between religion, ceremony and the unknown, Coley’s series, Why I’m Not a Christian (2009), also showing in Mythologies, is inspired by a famous lecture given by Bertrand Russell in 1927-
Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly on fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing – fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death
Coley takes staples of atheist criticism – “Fear of Death”, “Fear of Defeat” and “Fear of the Mysterious” – and converts these into text slogans which he wraps around tree trunks commonly found at headstones on graves. The scripts provide suggestive alternatives to the epitaphs the dead have written as summa for their lives and as quasi-totemic sentinels, these works suggest a telling disjunction between the dignified silence of death and indoctrinated underpinnings of Christian ritual.

From the exhibition catalogue 'Mythologies' Haunch of Venison, London 2009