The Masochist

The Masochist
Patricia Coates

January 19 – February 10, 2024

Opening⎢Fri. Jan 19, 18 - 21 hr

Thurs. + Fri. 11 - 18 hr / Sat. 11 - 15 hr / Florastr. 61, 13187 Berlin 

The exhibition is part of Vorspiel 2024

Sufferance—not to say suffering as in suffering artists—is the curatorial directive. You don’t have to suffer (but probably you will). What ‘The Masochist’ is about is attempting to break away from the bourgeois artist paradigm, yet another credentialed professional and factotum and misery drag. David Rimanelli, Curator, NYC.

David Rimanelli, curator and writer in NYC, invited me to create work for solo exhibits in New York and Berlin. His invitation follows my participation in the zine series he edited, “The Masochist”, launched at MoMA PS1 and purchased by the Whitney Museum in 2019. This exhibition at, Berlin, shares its name with my first collaboration with David.

The Masochist is a call to action through a feminist lens, taking the shape of an artist's book, video installation and performance. The book chronicles an endurance performance that lasted over four days and nights in New York City, pushing the limits of my physical and psychological being to subvert power relations between 'the haves' and the 'have-nots' and to reveal failed systems where the most vulnerable fall through the cracks. The book distills a much longer (and louder) performance exploring themes of gender, class, sexual orientation and illness. The Masochist indulges difficult and uncomfortable feelings inherent in the title itself. Pain and pleasure exist here, not so much in a sexual way as in a psychological or moral one, as a way to unsettle cultural, psychological and societal assumptions.

The Masochist manifests the anxiety and repercussions of socioeconomic injustice existing in every big city all of the time and those exacerbated, most recently, by a global pandemic. The work evokes images of crisis, trauma, care, and resilience: a derelict apartment becomes a metaphor for affliction and pain; the abject calls to mind the theatre of Antonin Artaud. Neurosis and anxiety tell a need for restitution and intervention. The book distills a performance that is more Sisyphean than Nightingale: radical, subversive, benevolent, and mad. Delirious times demand delirious measures. Are we post-pandemic yet?

The Masochist expands my work from environmental crisis to social trauma; it develops my alter ego as a tragicomic figure and manifestation of the absurd whose Sisyphean battle shifts from fighting industrial agriculture in Ontario to abject poverty in NYC. Costume performance furthers the absurd; it speaks to notions of class and gender: Does one ever become a woman, or is being a woman a mode of becoming without end? (Butler).

The Masochist explores the tragedy of the human situation, uncovering our capacity for care, destruction, and desire for human connection, raising the question: How can we live with tenderness in a harsh world? Book, video and performance ignites existential questions to disrupt complacency and awaken consciousness. If the book we are reading does not wake us up like a blow to the head, goes the quote from Kafka: what are we reading it for?

The artist's book was created during my artist residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Film stills of the NYC performance are paired with the poetry by David Rimanelli to create a cinematographic presentation in book form.

Text: Patricia Coates

Patricia Coates

Patricia Coates is a multi-media artist working in performance, video installation and conceptual publishing (the artist's book). Coates pursues global investigations exploring our entangled relationship within the living world while examining the inextricable link between socioeconomic hardship and climate crises. Based in Southern Ontario, Canada, she works to transform 60-acres of rural land from industrial agriculture to habitat, growing and planting trees and restoring Carolinian forests and wetlands. This earthwork, spanning over 25 years, is integral to her art practice, shaping her film, performance and installation work. Propelled by degradation and inspired by the land's fecundity and beauty, she remains fully aware her resistance against Global conglomerates may be no more than a Sisyphean gesture. In residence at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, she grew seedlings from seeds she had collected from sites of trauma, then planted these across the city in a series of guerrilla performances.

Performance plays out through Coates's alter-ego, a larger-than-life flawed figure taking on environmental and, more recently, social sickness. A tragicomic figure, she is a manifestation of the absurd. Performances are subversive, compulsive, seemingly benevolent and mad. Her persona is the common thread throughout her work, taking on the status quo while raising existential questions. Ultimately, she investigates the human condition and asks: is there any real possibility for change? Like Sisyphus, she carries on.

Coates's work is shown internationally, in exhibitions and film festivals across the globe, winning awards at The John F. Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, NYC, Toronto, Tokyo, Rome, Paris and other major centres. Recent solo exhibits include Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin and Tanzfabrik, Berlin, and upcoming solo shows in New York City. Her work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

David Rimanelli: Curator, Writer

David Rimanelli is a renowned art critic, curator and writer. He began writing about art in 1988 and has chronicled developments in the New York art world for over two decades. From 1993 to 1999, he was an editor and writer for the New Yorker and, since 1997, has been a contributing editor at Artforum, writing also for Gagosian Quarterly, Bookforum, Tate Interview, Vogue Paris, frieze, Parkett, New York Times, Flash Art and 4Columns. David Rimanelli has been a guest lecturer on several occasions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; lectures and has taught art courses and Contemporary Art Seminars at New York University, Yale University, Pasadena Art Center and Otis College of Art and Design. Mr. Rimanelli is a graduate of Yale (1985); Magna cum laude with Distinction in the English major.

einBuch #31 

The Masochist
Patricia Coates

275 × 230 mm, 104 pp.

Interior: Indigo print on Metapaper Extrarough warmwhite 270 g/qm

Concept: Patricia Coates
Design: Julia Fabricius
Digital print: AusDruck GbR Berlin



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