Marcus Coates - Dawn Chorus

Bruce Turnbull 02/03/2007

Rating: 4/5

A rather ingenious use of originality spearheads British artist Marcus Coates' latest exhibition, a piece of work that will disturb and inspire in equal measures. Crossing the boundaries between film making and live performance, “Dawn Chorus” is the latest episode in a series of films that attempts to connect the differing worlds of animal and human expression. What has been perceived to be satirical is actually quite perturbing, and although the multi-screen installation of the project is appealing in its presentation, the artistic fruits that grow within are rotten with dark underpinning.

Each screen overtly shows different characters in a variety of situations and circumstances, all screeching and squawking in both unison and counterpoint to emulate a group of wild birds heralding the dawn. With just one solitary shot of each character, it is a steady production with all nineteen vocalists imitating their chosen species accurately; to quite an alarming effect. Running forward in double time to ape the rapid breathing patterns of the creatures, “Dawn Chorus” can be quite a distressing film to watch. In particular, the actor playing the dentist employs a rather epileptic quality, twitching rather profusely whilst emitting a chilling shriek.

Perhaps not for the timid exhibition goer, “Dawn Chorus” unpretentiously explores the relationship between birdsong and human behaviour, in a vivid portrait of subject and medium.

“Dawn Chorus” is showing at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road from Wednesday 14th February until Sunday 18th March 2007. Please visit www.balticmill.com for more information.