Patricia Coates is a multi-disciplinary artist working in film, installation and performance exploring the beauty and brutality of a degraded landscape and our transient existence within it. A call for restitution plays out like a Sisyphean gesture. Fecundity and death, care and violence are set against each other to create a psychic tension within the character Lucy Palustris, the artist’s alter-ego. The work probes issues of the Anthropocene while creeping into the physiological landscape of the persona. Lucy, a solitary woman in the landscape or built environment, manifests a conflicted relationship with the living world. Is she an agency of care, a de-stabilizing force, or a menacing presence? Ultimately, the artist attempts to uncover something about who we are as she addresses the question: How have we come to this tipping point of crisis? Lucy’s efforts are deliberate, tenacious though perhaps quixotic. Is her role (or the role of art itself) a necessary resistance or a futile intervention? There is a bit of Lucy in all of us: our complicity and our resilience. A tragic-comedic tone permeates her actions and her costume: A subplot speaks to notions of gender, race and class. Costume performance and the film medium itself pokes fun at the stereotype of the middle-class white woman; more specifically, Hollywood film stereotypes embodied by the artist’s mother’s generation. Lucy simultaneously clings to and subverts constructed notions of ‘norms’ that linger in her consciousness and, more generally, remain pervasive in today’ s society.
Coates has been awarded many Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants, supporting her international art practice. Collections of her work include the Whitney Museum, NYC.