Friday, September 23, 2011

Nick Cave 'Ever-After'

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

into appeal.

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.


  1. You do a nice job keeping the description short and focusing on a few in depth critiques. The second paragraph sums up the show well in a sentence. Good job! I think the first paragraph could be divided into two sentences. Maybe introduce the show like, “Nick Cave’s elaborate costume design and performance are currently exhibited at the Jack Shainman Gallery, Chelsea.”, and then go into the intriguing summary you started with. Or vice versa. You use some really nice descriptive words like, “zoomorphic” and “whimsical, statically composed ‘Soundsuits’”. I’m glad you mentioned the video, since it was where the pieces came to life in that show. I would include a couple words to describe what the music and movement were like.

  2. I loved that video because it seemed like being on pogo sticks- which is so totally silly, was actually given importance as it showed off the costumes.