Simon Coates is a multi-media artist, writer and curator based in London and South Devon. Coates’ practise is predicated on societal mores and behaviours as communicating modes, and he uses digital media (print, film and sound), live and recorded production, and curated events as tools for exploration. Coates has produced commissions and worked in partnership with Yinka Shonibare’s Guest Projects, Google Arts & Culture, the British Council, the Sound and Music charity, the British Music Collection, tech companies Sonos and Bang & Olufsen, War On Want, In Place of War and more.
In 2015, while living in Dubai, Coates founded Tse Tse Fly Middle East, the non-profit project that examines the role of artists in the struggle for human rights and censorship. Tse Tse Fly’s work extends from a monthly radio programme on UK arts station Resonance EXTRA and Moscow based New New World to live arts events, artworks and curated exhibitions, all produced by Coates. A selection of the project’s work is part for the British Library’s archive after the institution deemed it culturally significant and, in February 2020, the Tse Tse Fly Middle East project was honoured with a Special Mention in the 2020 Amnesty International Brave Awards.
Coates’s artwork has been exhibited and screened at - among others - the Whitechapel Gallery, Coventry Cathedral, Conway Hall (London), Tunisia's Tunis Central gallery, Bristol's Caraboo Projects, Mülheim an der Ruhr in Germany, Turin's Paratissima Art Fair, Berlin's Art Claims Impulse Gallery, Egypt's Cairotronica, and at venues and festivals in the USA, Italy, Argentina, Poland, Chile, South Korea and the Netherlands. He has written articles and conducted interviews for The New European, Songlines, Harper's Bazaar Art Arabia, Contemporary Practices, (British Council-backed music site) The Sampler and other publications. Coates also makes work under the Ubu Kung pseudonym, a project that focusses on experimental music and film. He has produced four Tse Tse Fly Middle East albums: Easy Listening Vol.1, Instruments of the State, These Are Our Friends Too and This Is Kafala.
Coates lived in the UAE from 2011 to 2017, and from 2014 to 2015 he managed the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, programming theatre and live work from Trevor Noah, Chicago Shakespeare Company, Gulzar and the Moscow City Ballet, and curating art projects featuring Jeremy Deller, Mohammed Kazem, Alvin Lucier and more. As a result he is a member of the British Council Gulf Alumni.