Marcus Coates: Between Stories

12 April - 18 May 2024
Kate MacGarry is delighted to announce Marcus Coates’ fifth solo exhibition at the gallery.

Coates confronts the challenge of relating beyond the human species; 'I want to create a space where the narratives that have defined these relationships might be reimagined, where our relations with others can be reconsidered, a place from which new stories that are fit for purpose might emerge'.

A new large-scale Nature Calendar (2024) compiles daily events in the natural world, drawing attention to the lives that we share the land, water and air with. The familiar and practical form of a calendar offers an insight into the life-cycles of other species, while creating markers of time to integrate these parallel lives alongside our experience. The Nature Calendar project has been presented in different cities and forms. In 2019 a digital version was presented at Kate MacGarry for Coates’ solo exhibition, Near-Life Experience, and in 2023 the French version of the calendar was displayed on advertising screens in Paris during Les Extatiques. As Arrivals/Departures (2017), it was installed as a large information display screen at Utrecht train station, Netherlands and remains there today. This year Nature Calendar has been commissioned by Ruinart to document and reflect their vineyard biodiversity for Carte Blanche 2024, a programme of six international artists’ commissions for Ruinart’s headquarters in Reims, France.

Coates presents a new iteration of The Sounds of Others (2024), an installation first commissioned by Cape Farewell as part of the Love­lock Art Commission. The animation explores unexpected similarities and convergences between the vocalisations of seemingly unrelated species. Recordings of animal sounds are sped up or slowed down to locate a similarity with the vocals of other species. The blue whale’s call, for example, which is at such a low frequency as to be inaudible to humans, reveals itself as it gets higher in pitch. At this higher frequency it finds a resemblance to the call of the redshank bird. The video takes the viewer along what Coates calls a biophonic line that connects 25 species, from insects, fish and humans to birds, reptiles and amphibians. Coates worked on this with the wildlife sound recordist Geoff Sample, his long term collaborator.

British Birds of Prey (2022), is a recent series by Coates commissioned by Rosaline Wong for Jesus College, Oxford. The idea evolved from Coates' 2013 series, Ritual for Reconciliation. Coates compresses his high quality photographic prints of wildlife between his hands as tightly as possible, reducing the photograph to a crumpled object. The once pristine image is carefully unfolded from its destructive handling. Although the purpose of this action remains largely intuitive, Coates is driven to address the inadequacy of the photograph to fully represent his encounter with the bird.

Between Stories, a painting made between 2017 and 2024 references botanical illustration in its exploration of unknowable forms, an imagined landscape where species grow from the ground, part animal, part plant. On the occasion of this exhibition, Coates has produced a giclee print edition of Between Stories - available at the gallery and online.

Marcus Coates was born in 1968 in London, UK. Recent solo exhibitions include The Directors, Artangel, London, UK (2022); The Animal That Therefore I Am, OCAT Institute, Beijing, China (2020); Dawn Chorus, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain (2015); The Trip, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK (2010); Psychopomp, Milton Keynes Gallery, UK (2010) and Marcus Coates, Kunsthalle Zurich, Switzerland (2009). Coates was nominated for the Fourth Plinth in 2013.