Courtesy Tobias Collier.

Dates: 30 October 2009 – 13 November 2009
Venue: Delfina Foundation
Artist Talk: 1 November 2009, 14:00 – 15:00
Royal Greenwich Observatory

Tobias Collier presents new works, produced during his residency in Damascus in 2009.

Tobias Collier’s work can be seen as an attempt to visually articulate a great epistemological challenge: that of the human mind encountering the intellectually imponderable. Encompassing elements of sculpture, installation, drawing, performance and video, Tobias Collier’s practice partly relies upon the translation of scientific research methodologies to the processes of art making. Using Art as their field of enquiry, the subsequent works function as mechanisms within the context of a research practice and present a unique combination of scientific processes with poetic artistry.

Playing with current ideas around Astronomy and Cosmology, Tobias Collier’s quotidian metaphors examine our cultural relationship to outer space, using objects of daily existence. They highlight the limitations and inadequacy of man-made processes such as logic (modelling, hypothesizing, inferring and inducing), analogies and metaphors when attempting to comprehend systems and structures that extend beyond our everyday experience.


Bifurcation Chair (2009) explores notions around unpredictable change and chaos. The sculpture suggests the process of change from one stable state, to another, through a realm of complex transformations and interactions, eventually resulting in regained harmony.

The Conflict between Belief and Reason  (2009) features a globe, a crystal ball, and a deflated balloon upon which the one-legged fragment of a table rests. Creating a symbiosis between scientific explanations and religious discourses on the origins of the universe, this unstable system, caught in a moment of seemingly impossible equilibrium, highlights our propensity to rely on structures of faith to organize our experience of the world.

In Untitled (2009), what looks like a traveling shot of a star-studded sky is, in fact, a single tracking shot documenting the holes in the ceiling of one of the largest souks, in the old city of Damascus. According to popular belief, these holes were caused by gunshots during the 1920s protests against the French mandate. The accompanying soundtrack is a recording of the noises and background voices of the souk’s thousands of daily visitors. Exploring the conflict between the sacred and the profane, positioning that tension at the core of human experience and frustration, the video is an abstract of our relationship to faith against diverging evidence. It ultimately suggests that art is perhaps an avatar of that condition.


Tobias Collier  (b.1972) graduated from Saint Martins School of Art in 1999. His first solo exhibition was at the VTO Gallery in 1999, and since then he has exhibited regularly both in the UK and abroad including shows at Steven Friedman Gallery, Lisson Gallery, the Royal Academy, HDK Munich and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Tobias was an international resident in Damascus, Syria, in collaboration with All Art Now and the Mustafa Ali Art Foundation. He currently lives and works in London. 

A collaboration with

Royal Observatory Greenwich