PPD 6 27/11/15

Marcus Coates – artist

  • work is broadly about human-ness
  • how do we create nature as a concept? how does culture serve us?
  • did 9 years of art education – a kind of delay tactic, didn’t feel ready to join the ‘art world’
  • sees his art as a by-product of life rather than an end point in itself
  • moved away, into the countryside, and connected with nature – which brought back his desire to make art
  • felt like making ‘works of art’ was a huge responsibility – thinking about the end point is too limiting
  • through play he found ideas
  • most important time in his career was working as a labourer and doing art for himself rather than anyone else – didn’t have to worry about it being good
  • did a Grizedale arts residency
  • making art because he believes in his imagination
  • all arts organisation have an agenda – Coates likes to challenge their expectations
  • he had a methodology: pursued his passions and searched for interesting people
  • Dawn chorus piece – got people in a small village to sing along to a very slowed down track of birdsong. Then speeded it up, thus recreating the birdsong using humans. Project escalated and received funding from the Wellcome Collection. Became a 14 screen installation.
  • in the village – saw people feeling an emotional connection to art, enjoying working collectively and connecting to nature
  • did a residency in a tower block that was due for demolition – started to collaborate with residents and form relationships. Model for socially engaged process
  • his role as artist: to test things
  • Went to the Galapagos Islands- noticed that people there were second class to the animals – tourists just visit for the wildlife. Found a tiny tv station for the island and did some reporting for them dressed as a bird. Found that he had a position to say things that others couldn’t – birds can say anything!
  • Went to the middle east – talked to a mayor in Israel whilst dressed as an animal
  • there is power in playing the fool
  • believes that in western culture we don’t trust our imagination/unconscious
  • stopped doing performances in galleries as found it not useful – strange context
  • it is a mistake to think that the ‘art world’ is where art exists
  • by not being in London and working in regional areas he had access to more funding
  • “London’s a great place for consumption.”
  • imagination as a source for pragmatic ideas

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