"â¦my work is all about our relationship with animals and natureâ¦There is humour in the work, but a serious side explores how we use our relationship with animals to define our humanness. " (Marcus Coates)
This exhibition is the first survey of Marcus Coates' work in a public gallery in the UK and includes early film pieces, sculpture, sound, costumes and photographs as well as new work.
Marcus Coates' 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. 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 (b.1968) 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.
'Psychopomp' means 'the guide of souls'; they are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly-deceased souls to the afterlife, or to act as mediators between the unconscious and conscious realms. They have been associated in many cultures with animals, such as horses, dogs, crows and sparrows. In many cultures, the shaman fulfills the role of the psychopomp.
Exhibition supported by Mannakin Ltd.
Media Partner: Aesthetica
With thanks to Kate MacGarry, London & Workplace Gallery, Gateshead