Jane Rendell

To miss the desert

‘To miss the desert’, is a response to artist Nathan Coley’s, ‘Black Tent’, (2003) curated by Gavin Wade for ‘Art and Sacred Spaces’. The brief was to parallel Coley’s work, for me as a critic to write a ‘sanctuary’ rather than write about one. The essay responds to the form as well as the content of Coley’s art work. As ‘Black Tent’ is composed of squares with two different coloured sides, the essay takes two very different voices; and as the art work adopts various configurations according to the site it is placed in, so too does the writing. The essay explores nomadism as a specific form of travel, and the tent as a place of safety and danger, but although the thematics remain the same, the composition of the narrative shifts through changing autobiographical memories of the desert.

‘To miss the desert’ was published as a catalogue essay in Gavin Wade (ed.), Nathan Coley:  ‘Black Tent’ (Portsmouth, Art in Sacred Places, 2003).

Images: Nathan Coley and Peter Langdown
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