LONDON.- This exhibition will be the first survey of Marcus Coates' work in a public gallery in the UK and will include early film pieces, sculpture, sound, costumes and photographs as well as new work. The show will run from January 15 through April 4, 2010.
Coates often assumes the identity of an animal, such as a fox, goshawk or stoat, by simulating its appearance, enacting its habits and appropriating its language. In the film, 'Stoat', (1999), for example, Coates totters around on ramshackle platforms, learning to recreate the animal's bounding movements; in 'Goshawk', (1999), a telephoto lens captures the artist as a rare bird perched precariously at the top of a tree; while in 'Finfolk', (2003), the artist emerges from the North Sea spluttering a new dialect, as spoken by seals.
Coates has also trained as a shaman and the exhibition includes films of his rituals, where he achieves a trance-like state and communes with the animal kingdom to address social issues. Wearing an array of costumes such as a badger's hide, a stuffed horse's head, a blonde wig and a necklace of money (all of which will be on display), Coates has addressed issues including prostitution, regeneration and swine flu for communities worldwide and most recently in Israel, Japan and Switzerland.
"...I feel that my imagination can be put to good use socially, even politically." - Marcus Coates
'Dawn Chorus', (2007) is a major, multi-screen installation in which human voices re-create the chorus sung at dawn by birds, including a chaffinch, pheasant and yellowhammer. Together with wildlife sound recordist Geoff Sample, Coates recorded individual birds singing simultaneously on a single morning. Each was slowed down to a human pitch, so that people could be filmed mimicking these lower and slower sounds in their own natural habitats, such as a hotel, osteopath's
clinic or even a bath tub. The films were then accelerated until people twitter like birds and their voices precisely echo the original birdsong.
In 'Peregrine', (1999) Coates has painted the feathers of this powerful predator onto the carriage of an ordinary starling. This sculpture encapsulates the artist's exploitation of art for its magical and liberating ability to transpose everyday objects and situations into unexpected, humorous and thought-provoking contexts.
The exhibition includes works spoken in numerous tongues as Coates ultimately addresses his audiences using the universal language of the imagination to highlight the spiritual and social potential of art.
Marcus Coates' (born 1968) practice questions how we perceive humanness through imagined non-human realities. An extensive knowledge and understanding of British wildlife has led him to create unique interpretations of the natural world and its evolving relationship with society. An aspect of Coates' recent work sees him as a 'useful social agent' or problem solver. Using his skills and position in society as an artist and his knowledge of British wildlife he seeks resolutions to social issues for clients.
Through self designed rituals informed by traditional cultures he consults a non conscious world of animals and birds to seek relevant information. He has performed 'consultations' with a variety of clients: Ikebukuru Council, Tokyo, Japan, the Mayor of Holon in Israel, a residents housing association in Liverpool and City Council of Stavanger in Norway. Their problems range from illegal cycle parking, prostitution and the Israeli/Palestinian crisis.
Coates' videos, performances and installations have been shown internationally.
Recent exhibitions include: "Altermodern, Tate Triennial", London, 2009; "Lisson Presents 2", Lisson Gallery, London, 2008; "Manifesta7", Trento, Italy, 2008; Kunsthalle Zurich 2009; Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo 2009; Sydney Biennial 2010.
Coates received the Paul Hamlyn Visual Arts Award 2008 and the Diawa
Foundation Art Prize 2009, And was the Calouste Gulbenkian Artist in Residence in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, 2008. Coates lives and works in London.