World-renowned artist, Nick Cave once danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre before pursuing visual art studies. Now as a notable educator, and artist he continues to expand his repertoire of monikers: performance artist, sculptor, dancer, fiber artist, fabric sculptor….
His work melds art, fashion, and dance together in abstract, dreamlike sculptures – most recognizably, his ritualistic costumes called “Soundsuits”: bright wearable embellished fabric sculptures that make sounds when worn. These sculpted, textured full body soundsuits layered with colorful metal, plastic, fabric, hair, and other objects designed to rattle and resonate with the movement of the wearer, usually Cave himself.
The soundsuits hide gender, race, and class, forcing you to observe without judgment. The suits are sometimes sedentary, standing quietly as a more traditional piece of sculpture set in place within an institution or displayed at an art fair. However, sometimes they are in movement – alive in motion, engaging you in a joined narrative. The combined elements of sound, performance, color, and costume create a layered complexity – visceral moments entwined with a performance built on impulse, provoking a bond with the unfamiliar.
A few years ago, we were fortunate enough to catch Cave’s performance HEARD. He bought his mesmerizing soundsuits to Grand Central as part of their 100th-year celebration. The performance piece featured thirty of his colorful horse suit creations wandering and dancing in the train station at set times.
Nick Cave [Website]
The More You Know:
- Check out Nick Cave’s current exhibition (his largest to-date), expounding beyond the soundsuits, an exploration of thoughts on race and identity. Until is now running at Mass Moca
- Teaching with Nick Cave’s Until, Until Conversations Emerge, Art21 | “Nick Cave’s most recent installation, Until, is an immersive and subtle confrontation…asking viewers to pay attention to the point at which they become participants in discussions about violence and race in America—right there in the gallery space itself.”
- Visit the SoundsuitShop, which was created to share the art of Nick Cave with a broader audience.
- VIDEO: Art21 exclusive, Thick Skin gives some insight into the impetus behind the Soundsuits.