Ecumenopolis

As promised yesterday, here are the photos of Nathan Coley’s exhibit at GoMA, The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004. He began with a couple of pages torn from the Yellow Pages.

The work is based on Ruskin’s idea that “buildings and architecture are two separate things – one being purely functional and the other having meaning” (GoMA handout). So Coley made cardboard models of 286 churches listed in the Yellow Pages and assembled them in a higgledy-piggledy fashion on GoMA’s floor.

I added what could be construed as meaning, if you believe in that sort of thing, by positioning a tall white pillar behind a spire to represent the elevator to Heaven. I also cropped the bit showing the ceiling so as not to spoil the illusion. But I did leave in the Yellow Pages, so there would be a bible of sorts.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of this strange ecumenopolis.

I find this fascinating. Architectural models of any sort always draw attention, whether it’s Hitler’s model of the new Berlin or a model railway layout. Here, the absence of streets focuses attention on the buildings and how you might navigate between them. Should you want to. Not many people do.