Nick Cave explores the crossroads of identity, race and ritual through
elaborate costume design and performance.
Entitled ‘Ever-After’, the show exhibited at the Jack Shainman Gallery in
Chelsea, presents a collection of whimsical ‘Soundsuits’ - hand made
garments made of various materials, such as string, faux-fur, buttons.
They are so named for the sounds they produce when worn by a performer.
Thus the viewer is allowed to infer what type of noise would emanate from
the suits when allowed to assume their intended function.
The foreboding feeling aroused by these creatures with human bodies and
zoomorphic characteristics - daunting as they are - is contrasted by the
highly attractive intricacy of costume design and bold use of color. The
elegance and rhythm of these garments, the ambiguity of sexual
characteristics, and the social and political underpinnings of the
artist's goals overturn the unnerving first impression and metamorphose it
The costume compositions are arranged in specially allocated spaces, which
allow the viewer to process each display as an individual work of art. For
instance, the work ‘Speak Louder’ is composed of several figures with
gramophone-like heads, made and joined by same material (black buttons).
The title, along with the formal composition of the figures, cleverly
implies the idea of a ‘broken telephone’, which communicates to the viewer
their reliance on one another in order to move in a specific direction. This
idea of miscommunication between seemingly congruent, corresponding parts, relay the interdependence of individuals in society.
A video presented in the show documents the ‘shamanistic’ performances with these objects, which at once convey transcendental and threatening characteristics. Nick Cave proves to be
successful in achieving his goal of bringing attention to social
incongruence despite through conceptually and visually compelling design and performance, which erases boundary between race and identity.