with Nick Cave
In ‘Forothermore,’ Artist Nick Cave Harnesses the Power of Beauty and Art to Inspire Change
From floral Soundsuits and found-object sculptures to a multicolor web of millions of pony beads, Forothermore surveys the 30-plus-year career of artist Nick Cave. The retrospective, which draws its name from “forevermore” and “for others,” opened last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and captures both the evolution and mainstays of the artist’s practice. Cave spoke with Colossal in an interview ahead of the show, saying, “Why now, why now this moment, why this exhibition, why this survey, and who is it for? Once I removed myself from it, I realized that it’s not for me. It really allowed me to take a course of action in terms of that movement and what will this look like, looking at three and a half decades of work.”
Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, the exhibition opens with an iteration of the metallic wind spinners that were part of Cave’s 2017 show at MASS MoCA. Guns, bullets, and teardrops are embedded in some of the kinetic pieces that hang alongside smiling faces and peace signs. These sinister symbols pervade the suspended installation, which considers how a desire to only see beauty can mask painful, life-threatening issues.
Heavily patterned vinyl wallpaper designed in collaboration with Cave’s partner Bob Faust runs through much of the show and creates a textured backdrop for the artist’s mixed-media assemblages of kitsch figurines, vintage furniture, and other trinkets. Dozens of his signature Soundsuits stand inside the fourth-floor gallery, including the mournful piece veiled in 929 black flowers that was created in response to George Floyd’s murder. Wall sculptures made of items sourced from flea markets—these include rusted tools, dominos, wooden boards, button-up shirts, and glittering orbs—date back to the 90s and surround the vibrant, armor-like costumes.
Cave created the first Soundsuit following Rodney King’s beating in 1991, and he’s never wavered from confronting racism in his works. “As I’m trying to imagine other ways of thinking and making, I’m constantly being brought back to this, unfortunately,” he says. The exhibition also includes a collection of bronze arms cradling sprawling, metallic bouquets with hands often clenched and raised in a fist, a reference to strength and solidarity in the face of rampant injustice.
Forothermore is on view in Chicago through October 2, when it will travel to the You can read the full interview with Cave here, and find more from the artist on Instagram.
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Nick Cave’s Energetic ‘Soundsuits’ Dance Along the New York City Subway in a 360-Foot Mosaic
Spanning the 42 St. Connector between Times Square and Bryant Park in New York City is a troupe of dancing figures dressed in vibrant costumes of feather and fur. The ebullient characters are based on the iconic series of Soundsuits by Chicago-based artist Nick Cave (previously) and are the first part of a massive permanent installation titled Each One, Every One, Equal All in the public transit corridor.
Stretching 360 feet, “Every One” is the first in the mosaic trio and displays more than two dozen of the adorned figures inlaid in ceramic tiles. The pieces are based on James Prinz’s photos of Cave’s original designs, which are soulful and energetic forms that blend fashion, sculpture, and performance in full-body coverings. Soundsuits “camouflage the shape of the wearer, enveloping and creating a second skin that hides gender, race, and class, thus compelling the audience to watch without judgment.” Cave describes the impetus for the project.
Times Square is one of the busiest, most diverse, and fabulously kinetic places on the planet. For this project, I took the aboveground color, movement, and cross-pollination of humanity, bundled it into a powerful and compact energy mass that is taken underground and delivered throughout the station and passage. ‘Every One’ places the viewer within a performance, directly connecting them with the Soundsuits as part of an inclusive community of difference.
“Every One” was officially unveiled today with a short video work showing the colorful figures in motion playing every 15 minutes outside the corridor. “Each One” and “Equal All” are scheduled for 2022, and once complete, the project will stretch 4,600-square-feet with more than four dozen dancers. It will mark both Cave’s largest permanent installation and the MTA’s most expansive commissioned mosaic to date.
To learn more about Soundsuits and the project’s history, read this explainer in Public Delivery, and follow the artist’s work on Instagram. (via Kottke)
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A Monumental Bas-Relief Sculpture by Nick Cave Connects Senegalese and U.S. Cultures in a Web of Beadwork
Innumerable pony beads, pipe cleaners, sequins, and objects gathered from two continents overlay a web of rainbow mesh that’s suspended in the U.S. Embassy atrium in Dakar. Installed in 2012, the expansive work by Chicago-based artist Nick Cave (previously) is composed of amorphous swells and circular patches of multicolor netting that stretch 20 x 25 feet. Physically connecting pieces of both U.S. and Senegalese culture, the webbed, bas-relief sculpture symbolically stands as “a unifier that brings people together,” Cave says in an interview.
Virginia Shore and Robert Soppelsa curated the project for Art in Embassies, a program led by the U.S. Department of State that fosters cross-cultural exchange through visual arts and spans more than 200 venues in 189 countries. “When you think about Art in Embassies and cultural diplomacy, what is interesting for me, as an artist, is, how can I facilitate that within the work that is developed? Yes, I will create the piece for the embassy, but I was also interested in ways to integrate the artists that live and work here,” he says.
Cave developed the structural portion of the work in his Chicago studio, and after meeting Sengalese artists, scholars, and students, he utilized pieces from three locals—Seni M’Baye, Loman Pawlitschek, and Daouda N’Diaye—once on site. The resulting installation, which weighs nearly 500 pounds, took Cave and ten assistants more than three months to complete.
Watch the interview below for more on the process behind the monumental project, and follow Cave’s work on Instagram.
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Tens of Thousands of Metallic Lawn Ornaments Glisten Inside Nick Cave’s Monumental Installation at MASS MoCA
Composed from tens of thousands of metallic wind spinners, more than 10 miles of crystals, and thousands of other traditional lawn decorations is Nick Cave’s installation “Until,” a work which exists at two levels within the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MASS MoCA) football field-sized exhibition space, Building 5. Illuminated chandeliers peek from within dense clouds of dangling crystals hung from the building’s rafters a story and a half above the floor. Several bright yellow ladders lead to the top of these glistening structures, showcasing crowded platforms that serve as home to dozens of ceramic birds, gilded pigs, colorful flora, and cast iron lawn jockeys.
Collecting the enormous supply of lawn ornaments and decorations for the exhibition was a collaboration between Cave and MASS MoCA. A team of several individuals scoured eBay, thrift stores, and other second hand shops to find previously used materials that would be perfect for the towering installation. The thousands of found objects create a textured experience, one viewing his cloud-like platforms through mirrored kinetic objects. Not all inclusions are intended to dazzle however, as scattered images of guns, bullets, and targets lay within the comforting imagery of opulence and kitsch.
“Formally their [the metallic wind spinners’] reflective quality was important,” Cave shares with Colossal. “To have something that we can see ourselves within as well as something that becomes almost mirage-like. Conceptually, garden spinners are found in our own back yards, so using these everyday objects with images of guns, teardrops and bullets conveys the proliferation of this violence in and around the safety of our homes.”
Cave, an artist best known for his elaborately produced Soundsuits, created the installation as a response to gun violence and policies and race relations in America. The title, Until, sits at the center of two phrases. The first, which lays at the heart of our judicial system, “innocent until proven guilty,” and the second phrase, which is seen to be more commonly practiced, “guilty until proven innocent.”
Cave hopes the exhibition serves a catalyst for these topics to be more readily discussed, as well as a space for change to be motivated. During the run of “Until” he invited several dancers, singers, poets, and composers to perform their own messages within the work, allowing the visual exhibition to double as a rotating stage.
“By inviting other artists and community members to make their own work within it, the installation becomes a platform for their work and their audiences,” said Cave. “Their particular of sharing their view on the subject may strike a different or more specific chord in some and as such the whole project becomes more effective and reaches more people. This is in service to all of our goals. I also learn from their works the role of my own work.”
A nearly 200-page book centered around the exhibition, Nick Cave: Until which is published by Prestel, will be released on April 28 at MASS MoCA, featuring installation images as well as essays by MASS MoCA curator Denise Markonish, Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne, and Cave himself. It will also feature poetry centered around the justice system by Claudia Rankine and reflections by the head of the Police Board and Task Force on Police Accountability in Chicago, Lori Lightfoot.
The book is available for pre-order on MASS MoCA’s website and Bookshop, and can be found in the museum later this month. There will be a book launch in NYC on April 26 at the New York Pubic Library and one at MASS MoCA on April 28. You can visit the monumental exhibition at MASS MoCA through August 2017. “Until” will then travel to Carriageworks in Sydney in 2018, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AR in 2019.
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