Nick Cave, a dancer, performance artist, and fabric sculptor, created his first soundsuit out of twigs. He collected enough sticks from a park to build a suit–a suit that he initially intended to be just a ‘sculptural object.’ He quickly discovered that he could fit inside the piece, and that the twigs made a mesmerizing rustling sound as he moved in it. And thus, the soundsuit was born. His later soundsuits have grown infinitely more complex as Cave layers materials to create pieces that are not only visually arresting but that also generate rich blends of sound.
But to say that Cave’s work is mere sculpture or visual art would do an inherent disservice to this boundary-breaking phenomenon. As an artist whose work consistently seems to blend disciplines and create pieces that move and breathe and challenge two-dimensional conceptions of art, Cave and his soundsuits seem to enter into a new territory altogether: one that wholly eschews traditional expectations. To watch a live performance of his soundsuits is to watch art unfold, unravel at the seams and out of the pieces left behind create something even larger–something alive.
Cave’s work has been featured in exhibits across the country. He has also been highlighted by a number of high-profile publications – including The New York Times – for his multidisciplinary art pieces. And it has recently been announced that this fall, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts – Nashville’s premier art museum, which features both classical art and a dynamic rotation of modern exhibits – will host a Nick Cave exhibition of its own. The exhibit will include a selection of Cave’s soundsuits–which function as standalone art pieces even without the accompanying performance, in addition to projected video and wall-mounted sculptures. The entire exhibit will speak not only to Cave’s emphasis on the fusion of movement and art but also on deeper issues of race, gender, and identity: axes around which his art revolves. The exhibit will run from November 10, 2017-April 1, 2018.