Sarah Wade
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A running wolf and other grey animals
The various shapes of Marcus Coates
in In the company of wolves
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The contemporary artist Marcus Coates is well known for a series of performances in which he imitates non-human animals. The combination of humour and a makeshift aesthetic have become somewhat of a trademark in these so-called ‘becoming animal’ works, as well as in socially engaged performances where the artist uses these ‘becoming’ skills to assume the role of the shaman. Although the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari positioned imitation as an ineffective means of becoming-animal, as has already been well rehearsed, this strategy remains key to Coates’s attempts to understand the world from alternative perspectives – especially those of non-human animals. In stark visual contrast to this body of work, Coates’s monochrome sculptural installations Platonic Spirit: Running Grey Wolf (2012) and All the Grey Animals (2012) comprise formal arrangements of grey prisms in the gallery space. Reminiscent of early minimalist works, they initially appear to be a far cry from the artist’s performances. This chapter examines how human–animal relations are articulated through encounters with these installations, speculating on why the wolf was represented in a stand-alone sculpture and considering these works in the context of Coates’s interest in becoming-animal.

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In the company of wolves

Werewolves, wolves and wild children

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