Marcus Coates, Dawn Circus

4 April - 25 May 2015, Fabrica Gallery

As always around May, Brighton really came alive with the arts. We are fortunate to live in a city that  embraces the arts so strongly and the wide variety of events that run alongside. Grassroots events like the Fringe and Artists Houses run alongside the festival and ensure that every single creative person has a suitable opportunity to display their work and contribute to the art world at a time where its eye is firmly fixed on Brighton come festival time.

We have had some amazing exhibitions. Rachel Kneebone, known for her porcelain sculptures that are fixed in the transient state of breaking, has featured at the University of Brighton; An intriguing exploration of water has popped up at Circus Street and the Pop-Up Brighton shop “It Is What It Is” has, as always, displayed some fascinating student works.

For me though there has been a true stand out show, and one that encapsulates the power of fine art and its ability to effect all senses simultaneously.

Marcus Coates’ Dawn Circus continued his anthropomorphic theme using video and sound to achieve this. First shown in 2007, this piece creates birdsong through sped up human song. Made up of 13 screens and speakers dotted around the space, displaying individuals who intermittently comes alive and “calls” to one another.

The birdsong originally recorded is wholly territorial, which is reflected in the different heights and placements of the screens as a tension is created between them. The speeding up of the participants to create the high pitched noise, mean that they take on birdlike characteristics in their movement and blurs the line between human and animal. Additionally, each person has characteristics of their own that crosses all kinds of class boundaries and societal rules and shows a sensitivity that the artist displays in all aspects of this piece.

Coates is aware of the venue and how it interacts with his piece. The fact that it was a church is fitting for an exhibition like this. The ambience and acoustics of the venue enhance the exhibition, introducing a sense of spirituality and a euphoric sense of freedom. The viewer becomes overwhelmed by the sound, and is allowed themselves to lose themselves in it.

It is a beautiful, thoughtful piece and a real pleasure to have in Brighton.