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November 29, 2012
Nick Cave Performing at Anniversary Celebration
‘Soundsuits’ sculptor Nick Cave performs at the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies 50th anniversary celebration

Sculpture reinvents itself as sound, as music and as a source of protection in the hands of Nick Cave.

The Chicago-based performance artist and sculptor constructs “Soundsuits,” material-heavy costumes that inspired a number of Corcoran College of Art + Design students to respond to his work through music and spoken word, performed at an artist-exchange workshop Wednesday evening at THEARC (1901 Mississippi Ave. SE.). Performing artist Nick Cave. (James Prinz Photography) The event was part of a week of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies (AIE) program, as featured by Mark Jenkins.Cave participated in an AIE cultural-exchange program earlier this year by making a bas-relief monument for the new embassy in Dakar, Senegal.

His main work, however, remains in his Soundsuits. In the past 20 years, Cave collected various found materials — such as twigs, beads, buttons and human and synthetic hair — to clothe his Soundsuits, which are akin to traditional African ceremonial masks. When Cave dons the suits, the sculptural pieces evolve into extensive audio performances , generating a distinctive symphony of sound when the materials reverberate and rustle against one another through his physical movements.

In 1992, Cave created his first suit — from twigs — in reaction to the LAPD’s arrest and beating of black motorist Rodney King, a case that would inflame the city and spark the riots.

Style Blog chatted with the artist as he ruminated on his creative process and student responses to his work:

Article by Winyan Soo Hoo - use the following link to see the full interview with Nick Cave about his soundsuits.

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