Saturday, March 1, 2014

Nick Cave: Fiber Arts in Motion

If the above image looks familiar, you're probably already aware of American performance and fiber artist Nick Cave. Cave is the creator of strange and beautiful costumes, including his famous Sound Suits, which swish and rustle when worn in performances that Cave choreographs.

Cave, who is the director of the graduate fashion program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, speaks of his work as a way to look without judgment, to see something other than race, gender, or class. His work certainly accomplishes this, but that it does so in a way that is so deeply friendly and approachable is one thing that makes it very special.

That many of his suits look like friendly beings from the dreams of children is quite intentional.
“I was really thinking of getting us back to this dream state, this place where we imagine and think about now and how we exist and function in the world. With the state of affairs on the world, I think we tend not to take the time out to create that dream space in our heads.”

--Nick Cave, Interview Magazine, 2013

 His work is collected internationally and shown in static gallery-style formats as well as semi-interactive performances, such as HEARD, featuring soundsuits that turn dancers into dreamlike shaggy bedecked ponies, which separate into two dancers, each a shaggy colorful being in their own right, before reuniting gracefully.  The dances are not always flashy and quick modern affairs meant to impress, as one might expect. HEARD is primarily a slower series of movements, understated, appropriately herd-like, and sometimes clumsy. It opens a space of possibility with gentleness and delight, not confrontation.

(See a full performance of HEARD in Grand Central Station without commentary here.)

More Sound Suits and sculptural costumes by Nick Cave:

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