Marcus Coates (b.1968, London; lives London) uses multiple
artistic media - performance, sound and video installations,
photography and sculpture - to explore humans' relations with our
natural surroundings. He is especially interested in the ways in
which humans regard and relate to other species, as a means of
investigating how we see ourselves. He is interested in 'being
animal': what forms animal consciousness can take and how it
connects variously with the human. Key works include Dawn Chorus (2007) in which humans
seem to mimic songbirds, and Journey
to the Lower World (2004), bringing shamanistic practices to
a Liverpool tower block.
Unsurprisingly in view of his earlier work, Coates' journey to the Galápagos provided him with a wealth of material and inspiration. He engaged actively with what he encountered, improvising oddly incisive works on site. Galápagos Fashions (2008) parodied the showy appeal of Galápagos fauna as typically (and most often beautifully) presented in nature magazines, coffee-table books and tourist brochures. Coates himself cross-dressed in a bright pink frock and posed as if vying for attention with the iconic giant tortoises. In similar vein, his now famous work Human Report (2008) appropriates the format of the nature documentary, turning the tables by sending a blue-footed booby (Coates in this case wearing a cardboard costume) to observe human behaviour. The film of his research was presented on Galápagos television, the news report from which was in turn incorporated into Coates' final video artwork.