“Animal Insertions and Human Projection: The Politics of Marcus Coates” by Shepherd Steiner

“Animal Insertions and Human Projection: The Politics of Marcus Coates” by Shepherd Steiner was published in the new book Marcus Coates (London: MK Gallery, Kunsthalle Zurich, Koenig Books, 2016). Published by Koenig Books London, in collaboration with the Kunsthalle Zurich and the Milton Keynes Gallery, the book offers the first significant overview of the film, photography, sculpture and other artworks produced by Marcus Coates from 1996 to the present. With contributions by Anthony Spira, Beatrix Ruff and Valerie Smith, Steiner’s essay investigates the variable ways and complexities in which Coates’s work hinges on the processes of anthropomorphism. An extensive marcus-coatesknowledge and understanding of British wildlife has led Coates to problematize the relationship between the natural world and society. For instance, the width of the book is the same as the wingspan of the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Most interesting are Coates’s attempts to reverse the flow of human projection by tapping into an underlying current that sustains projection and involves animal insertions into the human. Steiner argues these prosthetic extensions of the human and the animal are at the crux of understanding Coates’s post-relational, post-human politics. Thus an aspect of Coates’ recent work sees him as a ‘useful social agent’ or problem solver. Through self-designed rituals informed by traditional cultures he consults a non-conscious world of animals and birds to seek answers for pressing human problems. Whether or not this recourse to a world and set of knowledge’s that modernity has forgotten, suppressed and maligned is useful or productive is where Coates politics begins.

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