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Wear with Confidence: Nick Cave’s beautiful and empowering Soundsuits
12:04 pm


Nick Cave
performance art
Rodney King

Nick Cave is an artist, performer, educator and “foremost a messenger” who works in a wide range of media including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance.

Not to be confused with the antipodean singer and screenwriter, this Nick Cave is best known for his beautiful Soundsuits—“sculptural forms based on the scale of his body” which “camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender, and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment” or prejudice.

The idea for Soundsuits came about as a response to thinkingthe brutal police beating of Rodney King in 1991. As cave recalls:

It was a very hard year for me because of everything that came out of the Rodney King beating. I started thinking about myself more and more as a black man—as someone who was discarded, devalued, viewed as less than.


I started thinking about the role of identity, being racial profiled, feeling devalued, less than, dismissed. And then I happened to be in the park this one particular day, and looked down at the ground and there was a twig. And I just thought, well, that’s discarded, and it’s sort of insignificant. And so I just started then gathering the twigs, and before I knew it, I was, had built a sculpture.

Cave carried the twigs he had collected in Grant Park, Chicago, back to his studio where he drilled a small hole at the base of each one. He linked these together with a wire before attaching them to a large piece of material. From this he created his first wearable sculpture or Soundsuit:

When I was inside a suit, you couldn’t tell if I was a woman or man; if I was black, red, green or orange; from Haiti or South Africa. I was no longer Nick. I was a shaman of sorts.

Inspired by this incredible sense of freedom and empowerment, Cave began making more and more outrageous and fabulous creations from materials he found in flea markets and thrifts stores across country.

Cave admits he never knows exactly what he is looking for or how he will use it once found. When he does find some suitable object he will spend considerable time working out where best on the body this item can sit. When this is finally worked this out he then develops each design organically from this point. The finished sculptures are worn in performances devised by Cave. There is an obvious similarity between Cave’s Soundsuits and Leigh Bowery’s performance costumes from the eighties and early nineties. Both take traditional crafts (needlework, macramé  and crochet) and use them them to create powerful and beautiful works of (wearable) art. A selection of Cave’s Soundsuits are for sale at the SoundsuitShop.
More of Nick Cave’s fabulous designs, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Marina Abramović: Advice to the young
10:33 am


performance art
Marina Abramović

To be a great artist, one must be ready to fail, is just some of the advice offered up by performance artist, Marina Abramović in this recent interview.

This idea of failure echoes Samuel Beckett in Worstward Ho:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Abramović seems to agree:

“I think a great artist has to be ready to fail, which not too many people do. Because when you have success in a certain way, then the public accept you in a certain way, and you start somehow involuntarily producing the same images, the same type of work, and you’re not risking.

“Real artists always change their territories, and they go to the length they’ve never been. And there, [in] this unknown territory, and then you can fail, you can risk, and that failure is what actually makes this extra, you know.

“Being ready to fail makes a great artist.”

Abramović goes on to discuss what does it mean to be an artist, how one know they are an artist and why everyone isn’t an artist.

As for performance art, it is about finding the right tool for expression, but the key element, she emphasizes, is how the artist occupies the space:

“The idea can be totally shit, the execution can be wrong, but it is just the way how he stands. That’s it. In the space. How you occupy physically the space, and what that standing does to everybody else looking at [that] person. That kind of charisma really makes the difference. It’s a certain energy you can recognize right away. And you can learn later on how to execute these ideas, and all the rest, but it is about energy you cannot learn: you have t have it—it’s just there, when you are born.”


Previously on Dangerous Minds
Sex Magick: Marina Abramović‘s Balkan Erotic Epic
With thanks to Christian Lund

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Viva Art Clokey

My favorite Gumby episode. It’s so good I can scarcely believe it exists. Bon Voyage, Art !

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment