The first time I stumbled across one of Nick Cave’s art was his Soundsuits as an unsuspecting gallery wanderer was many years ago. The barrier of dream and magic that is part our modern tribe and part Dr. Seus imply that these fully enveloping costumes-of-sorts are just as potent today as it was at first glance.

 

DREAMING

Nick approaches his work with the goal of setting the scape to let his audience dream. Nick is an American artist, he is an Alvin Ailey trained dancer, he is the director of the graduate fashion program at the SAIC in Chicago, but above all, he is a dreamer. 

 

Nick Cave and the Soundsuits – Vogue

IN THE BEGINNING

 

He studied art at the Cranbrook Academy in the late 80’s. As the only minority in his class, this was the first time he was confronted with the aspect of his identity as a black male. His natural response to this new experience of eyes on him was to build a thick skin. After the LA riots in response to the Rodney King incident in 1992, he began to interpret his interest in anonymizing performers with coverings that hide class, gender, and race and protect the performer from layers of judgment. The performance becomes purely the art of the secondary skin, the armor, the movement and sounds resulting from these two elements combined.

 

TM13, A work inspired by Trayvon Martin – Cranbrook Acadamy

 

MATERIALS

 

Nick cave has used everything from human hair, twigs, furs, feathers, beads, sequins, industrial materials, to scraps and detritus salvaged from his life. He has also taken inspiration from material moments in his life such as focussing on crochet objects or paper mâché flowers arranged on, or more like into, the suits. This physical collaging is translated into characters of sorts that truly do bring us into a dream. 
View of the “Map In Action” room – Cranbrook Acadamy
Installation view of Nick Cave Here Hear – Cranbrook Acadamy

Stanford’s Nick Cave exhibition challenges artistic conventions.

LIBERATION OF THE SELF

The suits appear to be irresistible, with not dancing NOT being an option. This feeling of freedom is due to the liberation the wearer will feel when wearing. Stepping into a Soundsuit you release your former self and step into a new being that will deflect any judgment and free you from inhibitions. It’s an experience I will continue to dream of.
dancers from Sidewalk Detroit in Caves Soundsuits – Cranbrook Acadamy

Art Talk : An Interview with Nick Cave at the Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston

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