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 otherworldly, 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 in 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. They are sometimes sedentary, standing quiet 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 wider audience.
- VIDEO: Art21 exclusive, Thick Skin gives some insight into the impetus behind the Soundsuits.
We’re continuing our Black History Month Series with a profile on the always controversial, Visual Artist, Clifford Owens.
Preferring the term Visual Artist over Performance Artist; Owen’s work is never dull, usually centering on the body and often including spontaneous interactions with the audience. His performances push the envelope with heavy issues of race, gender relationships, and auto-eroticism – often leaving you to deal with/question his purposeful lack of emotional and physical control.
Like when I found myself confronted with his video work that dealt with different forms of abjection and how we deal or don’t deal with it for that matter. That’s all well and good – I was down to explore that until I was confronted with Owens gutting, fingering and doing all sorts of things to fruit that one couldn’t imagine unless one saw. He takes you to the precipice… it gets uncomfortable. He’s transforming a meaning, and part of the journey is trying to hold out and watch it unfold.
Owens claims no interest in the art world, “because the art world is not interesting,” but there’s no denying his work has spurned newfound interest in performance art. I could keep rambling on, but truly you need to see it for yourself.
Enjoy these links to more information on Owens
- Here’s a link to a great ArtInfo article – 27 Questions with Clifford Owens.
- This quick documentary on Clifford Owens, 2004 by Kristen Spillane will give take you through several of his performance pieces.
- Take on his audio pieces here.
- Want to see the anthology of work that made me squirm? Well ok…ready, set, go!
Performance Artist Nick Cave is bringing his mesmerizing sound-suits to Grand Central as part of their 100th year celebration. The performance piece (HEARD-NY) will feature thirty of his colorful horse suit creations wandering and dancing in the train station at set times. If you’ve never seen Cave’s sound-suits, as he calls them, then you’re in for a treat. These handcrafted suits made from found objects obscure the performer, creating an anonymity for the performer and viewer, leaving only on the sights and sounds of wonder.
You can make you experience interactive right now with Creative Time & MTA for the Arts. Floating out there in the Metro Machines are Limited Edition Nick Cave performance Metrocards. If you score one, post a picture of you with yours and tag it #IHEARDNY.
To Learn more about the performance go here to Creative Time’s Project page.
photos via Creative Time