"What my work is about, is that it hides gender, race and class, so you're forced to be confronted with something that is unfamiliar. It can't be categorized." Nick Cave -
On May 28, 2015, American artist Nick Cave presented the second Contemporary Conversations lecture, an exciting new artist exchange program for Art in Embassies(AIE) , set to feature a total of seven American artists over the course of the next two years. The program is presented in partnership with U.S Embassy Ottawa and the National Gallery of Canada (NCG). This initiative is an integral part of extending the reach of the Art in Embassies exhibition at Lornado, the residence of the American Ambassador to Canada, by using the art and artists on display at the residence, as a means of generating open dialogue across cultures and enriching the scope of U.S. public diplomacy.
With the NCG’s auditorium almost at full capacity, the evening began with opening remarks by AIE Director Ellen Susman and Mrs. Vicki Heyman, wife of U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman. Following the opening remarks, Cave engaged in a lively conversation with Jonathan Shaughnessy, NCG’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art. The audience was presented with an in-depth look at Cave’s artistic practice through the lens of several examples. Showing images and a new video of his iconic Soundsuits, the artist explained how these works, at once both sculptural and performative, stemmed from his own research of ceremonial and ritual costume dress from around the world. He also spoke of the monumental site specific AIE commission and Artist Exchange he completed for the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal in 2014, noting how the process of developing relationships with and learning from members of the local community were integral to the final product. Following the lecture at the NGA, a dinner was held at the Ambassador’s residence honoring the artist and his work.