Saturday, September 12, 2009

NICK caVe's sound suits

Nick Cave is known for making colorful, extravagant sculptures with a kind of double life: they can stand alone in galleries as visually compelling art objects, or they can be worn by dancers as vehicles for sound and movement. He calls them Soundsuits.

"When you're raised by a single mother with six brothers and lots of hand-me-downs, you have to figure out how to make those clothes your own," he said. "That's how I started off, using things around the house."

He learned to sew at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he was a 1982 graduate. He described his first garment as "very flamboyant pants and shirt with a harlequin sensibility." He said textiles immediately interested him for their expressive potential. But then so did dance. During college he began studying dance through an Alvin Ailey program, training in Kansas City during the year and New York one summer.

The twig Soundsuit, now in a private collection, was the first of hundreds. With the help of several assistants he has made suits out of everything from sisal to hundreds of plastic buttons topped by an abacus, one of many flea-market discoveries. Beads, sequins and feathers -- always sewn, never glued -- are also favorite materials. Some Soundsuits are made for performance; others go straight into the gallery system, mainly through the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York (where Soundsuits sold for $45,000 each in the winter of 2009).



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