'Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions. Perception is subjective... Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of human life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude'
(P. Coffin, quoted in M. Cattelan, 'Peter Coffin', in Flash Art, October 2007).
Wittily manipulating a metal spiral staircase into a perfect circle, Peter Coffin's Untitled (Spiral Staircase) turns a functional object into a dizzying conceptual game. The twists of toothed metal are looped into an inexhaustible spiral, presenting us with an optical conundrum reminiscent of M. C Escher's Infinite Staircase. Standing at over two metres in diameter and unified by its matt industrial grey colour, Untitled (Spiral Staircase) has a highly compelling, surreal beauty. Frequently confounding traditional notions of representation in his work, Peter Coffin challenges us to reconsider how we understand a familiar object and how we perceive space. Inspired by the belief that intuition and scepticism enable us to leap beyond logical conclusions, Coffin examines our knowledge and interpretation of the world with curiosity and humour. Borrowing from numerous disciplines, such as art history, music, science and New Age beliefs, his diverse conceptual practice exists to test his ideas about the way things work and exist. These often fantastical and monumental constructions both connect art history and everyday experience while subverting our expectations of both.