Did you hear? Nick Cave is coming to Detroit! Now, after reading that sentence, answer this (be honest): Did you form a mental picture of Nick Cave the artist or the musician? Shyly, I’ll admit that I thought of the musician. Turns out, I’m not the only one who had a thing or two to learn.
Nick Cave (the artist) is an alumnus of Cranbrook Academy of Art, and he is returning to Detroit and Cranbrook Art Museum for his ambitious project—Nick Cave: Here Hear—which will extend from spring through fall. Over the course of seven months, a range of both solo and collaborative events will be staged throughout the city of Detroit, kicking off in April and wrapping up in October (view the schedule).
The focus of these events will be the Soundsuits for which Cave is famous. Soundsuits are wearable sculptures made of reclaimed materials, which are often staged in public. Although they’re rarely demonstrated by the artist himself, Cave will dance in the suits in a series of photo shoots around the city. Photo shoots began on April 10, and are scheduled to continue through May. From June 20 through October 11, the Soundsuits will be part of an exhibit at Cranbrook Art Museum.
Cave was inspired to create his first Soundsuit, which was made of twigs, in 1992, in the wake of Rodney King’s arrest and beating by Los Angeles Police Department officers. In an interview conducted in 2012, Cave stated:
“I was responding to the significance of identity, of how — similar to twigs — sometimes people can feel disregarded easily. I built this sort of suit of armor and by putting it on, I realized that I could a make a sound from moving in it. It made me think of ideas around protest, and how we should be a voice and speak louder… My current Soundsuits extend as a root to that original work. It’s an ongoing process of finding discarded or dismissed material. I’m always reclaiming and renegotiating material items to build my work.”
In light of recent history, Cave’s work and initial inspiration are as relevant now as they’ve ever been.
If you’re able to see a Soundsuit in action at one of the photo shoots, you’ll have a unique experience of the sculptures. Regardless of whether or not you can be present for one of these brief sessions, the exhibition at Cranbrook promises to be both thought-provoking and visually intriguing.
If you were you able to see a Soundsuit in action, what did you think? Will you visit the museum exhibition?