Marcus Coates Human Report 2008 Digital video 7 min 16 sec Dimensions variable Camera by Elke Hartmann. Produced in association with Galapagos Conservation Trust and Gulbenkian Galapagos Artists' Residency Programme, with assistance from Channel 9 TV. © The Artist, courtesy of the Artist and Workplace Gallery, UK
ARTS-Private-Utopia-Marcus-Coates ©

Marcus Coates, Human Report, 2008, Camera by Elke Hartmann. Produced in association with Galapagos Conservation Trust and Gulbenkian Galapagos Artists' Residency Programme, with assistance from Channel 9 TV.

Image: Marcus CoatesHuman Report2008, Courtesy the Artist and Workplace Gallery, Gateshead © The Artist

 

Marcus Coates was born in London in 1968. He studied at the Kent Institute of Art and Design and the Royal Academy of Art, London. 

Working in various media, including photography, sculpture and sound, Coates is best known for his performative films, which explore encounters between the human and animal worlds, a key theme throughout his work. He appropriates the language and behaviour of wild mammals, insects and birds as a means of deciphering our emotional and social conventions. He gained notoriety for his video installation Dawn Chorus (2007), in which singers are shown in their natural habitats of offices and living rooms, mimicking intricate birdsong. 

Coates regularly appears in his films, often as a shamanic figure interacting with members of the public. Dressed in casual clothes and a selection of taxidermal headdresses, he channels animal spirits, using these encounters to offer insight into the problems of the human world. This interest in ‘becoming animal’ continues in a series of photographic self-portraits from 2013 in which the artist transforms himself into insects and molluscs by encasing his body in shaving foam, cotton wool, sugar and flour paste. Another transformation takes place in the film Human Report (2008), where Coates inverts the perspective of the nature documentary format. Disguised in a rudimentary cardboard costume resembling a blue-footed booby bird, native to the Galapagos Islands, the artist undertakes an observation of human life. The result is a funny, yet poignant critique of our desire to demystify nature.

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