Patricia Coates is a cross-disciplinary artist working in performance, film, installation and living material (trees grown from seed). For over two decades she has been transforming 60-acres of rural land in Canada from industrial agriculture to habitat, growing and planting trees, restoring Carolinian forest and wetland. The restoration work is integral to her art practice propelled by ecological degradation and inspired by fecundity and beauty. Two questions central to her work: How is it that we have poised ourselves to destroy the prospects for decent existence for much of life? (Chomsky) and, Does one actually ever become a woman, or is to be a woman a mode of becoming without end? (Judith Butler) play out through Lucy Palustris the artist's alter-ego. A larger-than-life, flawed figure, Lucy refuses all limits, taking on ecological and social sickness, ageing and death. Her own body reveals that she, too, is an ecosystem subject to time and decay — like the degraded sites she doggedly repairs. Her tenacious, though quixotic efforts question her ability (and art itself) as a force of resistance. A manifestation of the absurd, Lucy is a tragic-comedic figure - like Sisyphus, she carries on. A subplot speaks to notions of gender, race and class. Costume and irony create disjuncture, anxiety, alienation, dread.
Coates’s recent work includes the film screening Landfill at Tanzfabrik, Down to Earth, 2020; The Masochist #4, performance and zine launch at MoMA PS1, NYC, edited by David Rimanelli, purchased by the Whitney Museum of American Art; artist residency and solo exhibition, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin.
Coates holds an MFA, University of Windsor, Honours BA (English and Visual Art), University of Toronto. She has been awarded several Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants supporting her international practice.