Nick Cave: Until
Tramway presents the first exhibition in Europe of established contemporary artist and activist Nick Cave.
Until, organised by MASS MoCA, Massachusetts and co-produced with Carriageworks, Sydney and Crystal Bridges/The Momentary, Arkansas is Cave’s largest and most ambitious project to date. Cave who lives and works in Chicago is renowned for his Soundsuits, compelling and ornate figurative sculptures that can be worn and performed. An artist whose work has been driven by the social and personal impact of racism for close to three decades, Cave created his first Soundsuit as a form of both camouflage and symbolic body armour, an insulating layer of accumulated materials and meanings.
Cave’s meticulously crafted sculptures feature a sensorial array of found materials often found in craft, kitsch, or folk contexts, while the forms and materiality of the work references craft, kitsch, or folk, while the forms and materiality of the work also evoke the outfits and celebrations of Mardi Gras parades, drag performance, and shamanistic or ritual costumes. Cave has been gathering this material for years ranging from antique toys, ceramic birds, fruit and animals, buttons, festive decorations, pompoms, crochet blankets, gramophones and pony beads.
In Tramway's main gallery, Cave will exhibit a massive immersive installation made up of thousands of found objects which make viewers feel as if they have entered a rich sensory tapestry, akin to stepping directly inside the belly of one of his iconic Soundsuits. Though opulent and celebratory, the exhibition remains firmly connected to the political impetus behind Cave’s ongoing body of work. Until is a space where alluring kinetics and sumptuous materiality gives way to stark images, referencing complex issues of gun violence, racial profiling and gender politics that currently divide the United States of America, and the extension of these matters in communities around the world. As such, Until echoes the function of the Soundsuits, positioning the black body as simultaneously vulnerable and resolutely present.
Until will function as an alternative town hall, becoming a gathering space for community events, performance and discussion throughout the duration of the exhibition. ‘I view this work as an elaborate community forum, as much as a work of sculpture’ notes Cave.
Until was organised by MASS MoCA, Massachusetts and co-produced with Carriageworks, Sydney and Crystal Bridges/The Momentary, Arkansas. Principle exhibition support was provided by an anonymous gift. Major exhibition support was provided by Jack Shainman Gallery and Beadcraft. Curated by Denise Markonish MASS MoCA and for Tramway by Claire Jackson.
Images from top:
Header image - Nick Cave (Until), Tramway 2019, installation photo by Keith Hunter
Image gallery - Nick Cave (Until), Tramway 2019, installation photos by Keith Hunter
Portrait of Nick Cave at Tramway, 2019, by SNS