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Second Cycle of Exhibitions for Espai 13 at Fundació Joan Miró Opens with Marcus Coates
Marcus Coates, Dawn Chorus, 2007. Courtesy of Kate MacGarry, London and Workplace Gallery, UK.

BARCELONA .- The Fundació Joan Miró presents Implicit Sound, the second cycle of exhibitions for Espai 13 curated by multidisciplinary artist TRES.

The title of the project not only stresses its connection with the previous Espai 13 cycle, Explicit Silence, but also reflects visual artists’ growing interest in using sound in their work.

The five participants in this project are all eminently visual artists who use sound in an implicit fashion, i.e. by including sound in their work though not necessarily as the main component. Their preference for installations suggests a form of art without any limitations in terms of expressive resources, where the transformation of space tends to be a central aspect.

Implicit Sound is not therefore in essence a cycle on sound, and even less so one on sound art. It is a visual arts cycle that aims to express our interest in a form of sound hidden or contained in pieces by certain visual artists without ever playing a major role. The cycle follows in the same vein as Explicit Silence in that it refers to sound as a concept closely linked to silence, either by its nature as ‘tacit’ or ‘understood’, the discreet way it is approached or the specific meaning artists give it.

Current trends in contemporary art show a clear interest in sound and music. With Implicit Sound, Espai 13 at the Fundació Joan Miró is keen to reflect this general interest and add a fresh touch which we think defines a certain trend in up-and coming contemporary art.

The artists selected by Tres for the cycle are: Marcus Coates (London, 1968), Esther Mañas / Arash Moori (Madrid, 1974 / Birmingham, 1977), Michael Sailstorfer (Vilsbiburg, Germany, 1979), Su-Mei Tse (Luxembourg, 1973) and João Onofre (Lisbon, 1976).

Marcus Coates (London, 1968) is one of the most original artists to come out of the United Kingdom in recent years – an eccentric Englishman of the kind we thought had become extinct. Through his films and performances, Coates takes audiences on a dark journey full of humour to explore the true power of the imagination and the relationships between nature and culture, as well as questioning the role of artists in society.

Coates examines the limits between human and animal through a kind of experimentation that lets him turn into an animal himself. Thanks to his interest in ornithology, zoology and anthropology, he has honed a series of skills to break free of his own human condition and explore the world through the mind and body of animals by literally taking on their own skin. In his films he often plays the role of a shaman to access a ‘lower world’ inhabited by birds and mammals, whose spirits he communicates with to try and understand the nature of certain difficult problems of interest to the audience, in whose name he acts. Through this power of becoming something or someone else, he tries ultimately to reveal the role of the artist as an interpretive force in society.

Coates’s videos take us far away from our anthropocentric perspective and back to a time before untrammelled industrialisation and the destruction of habitats to stress our species’ arrogance in our disrespect for the environment. Coates’s interest in both the magical and the rational suggests that the gap between belief and knowledge might not be that great.


Coates’s desire to get others involved in his transformations is perfectly reflected in Dawn Chorus (2007), an ambitious installation made up of nineteen films. Each one features a singer mimicking a bird singing at dawn from the comfort of their own home.

Working with sound technician Geoff Simple, he placed microphones in woods in Northumberland (United Kingdom) for a fortnight to record individual birdsongs in the dawn chorus. The recordings were then slowed down and passed on to the human participants – all of them professional singers – so they could learn them and perform them in front of the camera. The footage was then speeded up again to match the speed of the original recordings. The result is a hybrid of benign doppelgangers: an office worker becomes a wren and an old lady is transformed into a pheasant. Their heads move erratically and their chests rise and fall at a similar speed to the birds they are mimicking. Human and animal fuse in an incredibly powerful and vivid fashion, recalling the half-man, half-beast beings of ancient mythologies. Filmed in Bristol, the project is as much a portrait of British
society and its own idiosyncrasies as of our own natural world.

The Fundació Joan Miró | Marcus Coates | Espai 13 |

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