Questions & Answers





I recently went to London's East End to see the show Questions and Answers by Marcus Coates at Kate MacGarry.
Marcus Coates is renowned for his often hilarious performances where he is wearing animal skins and appears to go into shamanic trances in an attempt to get answers to questions raised by the audience.
Trying to address everyday questions as well as major political problems this way is a refreshing new (old) approach - and isn't it THERE in the gap between subject and object, matter and spirit, nature and culture etc. that we find THAT?
But is it possible to look through other specs than those we have been wearing for 300 years in the Carthesian worldview with it's neatly hierarchically ordered and distinct dualisms?
Rane Willerslev is addressing the Cartesian legacy in anthropology in the book Soul Hunters: Hunting, Animism, and Personhood among the Siberian Yukaghirs where he challenges the Western anthropolgical view that tends to see shamanism and animism as "a particular cultural construct, intensely intriguing and interesting perhaps, but without any foundation in reality".
Marcus Coates uses mimicry in his practice i.e. he imitates but without loosing his own identity (he only dresses partly as an animal). But is he an artist acting like he is a shaman, or is he seriously trying to be a shaman? Well, leaving Descartes behind, the question is meaningless. To me he is entering the realm where he is not an artist (or shaman) and yet he is also not not an artist (or shaman).
In conclusion I would like to confess: I am not a tree, but I am also not not a tree.