Marcus Coates was born in 1968 in London where he lives and works. Central to his practice is the desire to devise processes to explore the pragmatism and insight that empathetic perspectives and imagined realities can offer. He explicitly addresses a need to create functional and inclusive languages where conventional strategies of understanding and rationalisation prove inadequate. The form and purpose of his work continues to develop in consideration to society’s needs which he responds to by working with individuals, communities, institutions, organisations and the general public. Coates has collaborated with people from a wide range of disciplines including anthropologists, ornithologists, wildlife sound recordists, choreographers, politicians, gallerists, curators, psychiatrists, palliative care consultants, musicians, primatologists amongst others.


Coates stages public events – Ask the Wild – which investigate what we can learn from other species to inform the problems and questions we have about human society. In 2018, he held events at Whitechapel Gallery, Tate St Ives and Whitstable Biennale, in collaboration with Feral Practice. In 2017, Coates completed a residency on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada where he asked the Mayor to make an official public apology to the extinct bird, the Great auk. Also in 2017, he initiated a year of monthly performances in Utrecht Train Station, Netherlands, to mark events happening simultaneously in nature. For example, a dating event for the public based on the mating display of the woodcock bird, an improvised choral ensemble based on the varied vocalisations of foxes and a press and online advertising campaign welcoming different species of migrant birds to the Netherlands. In 2016, he undertook a 30-day residency at the Barbican Centre, London, as part of Doug Aitken’s Station to StationSolo exhibitions include The Trip, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2010); Dawn Chorus, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain (2015); Psychopomp, Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK (2010); Marcus Coates, Kunsthalle Zurich, Switzerland (2009); The Last of its Kind, Workplace Gallery, London, UK (2018). Coates was nominated for the 4th Plinth Commission in 2014, was the recipient of a Paul Hamyln Award in 2008. In 2009 he won the first Daiwa Art Prize.