Fabric, sequins, embroidery, mannequin
102 × 36 × 36 in. (259.08 × 91.44 × 91.44 cm)
(image from Try-Me Gallery; now at VMFA, a 2018 gift of Pamela K. and William A. Royall, Jr.)
- Soundsuits are elaborate and wearable sculptures that the artist began making in 1992.
- Comprised of a variety of materials that include fabric, sisal, human hair, buttons, sequins, feathers, wire and accumulated objects, these suits are made to be worn and their title relates to the noise made when they move.
- As a former dancer and choreographer, Cave has historically activated these objects through live and filmed performances.
- Whether static or in motion, the Soundsuits bear some resemblance to African ceremonial costumes and masks.
- Although the Soundsuits appear vibrant and joyful, they began as a response to the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1992.
- As an African-American man, Cave felt particularly vulnerable after this incident of police brutality and the first Soundsuits can be understood as a form of protective body armor.
- By 2011, when Cave made the Soundsuit that has been given to VMFA, these full-body outfits had become increasingly elaborate and exuberant.
- VMFA plans to acquire more Soundsuits in the future, along with Cave’s videos of these human shaped assemblages in motion, so that this example can be placed in context and fully understood as both a sculpture and performative piece.
SEE MORE OF HIS WORK HERE: http://www.jackshainman.com/artists/nick-cave/
HEAR FROM THE ARTIST IN THE VIDEO BELOW:
- Cave's soundsuits have a performative component. 1) Explain how this can be a type of COMPOSITION, critical to his expression of CONTENT. *** If you don't know about African masks and the fact that they are only complete when combined with a costume and a dance, which is part of a specific ritual or event, you may need to look that up. Also review the video @ 11:27 when he addresses objects from the natural history museum. 2) With that in mind, will your sculpture "sit," "stand." or "hang" - OR is there (or could there be) a performative or interactive component to better support the CONTENT? Explain (why/why not).
- The "Rodney King incident" sparked a major direction in Cave's work. 1) What was that incident, 2) What was the specific direction that his work took based on that event (CONTENT), and 3) What events or incidents spark your ideas? Do you still have MANY or are you beginning to narrow your scope?
- One idea leads to the next. That concept is a natural part of an artist's flow and The Artistic PROCESS (see SOL AIII. 4 and your handout!). 1) What is Cave's PROCESS? 2) What is yours? 3) What can you learn about the ways that various artists use PROCESS to develop and create their work?
- Cave can equate his sculptures to paintings. 1) Explain this concept. 2) As an art student, you have been working in multiple medias in order to understand how they differ and how they might be combined - explain what this means to you, especially as it relates to your sculpture.
- Even though his work changes form, the "essence stays the same." At the end of the video, Cave explains his new body of work and how there are similarities and differences between it and the soundsuits.... Explain how you interpret this as equivalent to your PLAY pages AND to the overall development of your own artistic vision/voice (again, SOL AIII.4 - if you haven't looked at the Artistic Process handout yet, please do!).
- Beyond the topics and questions provided here, is there something that you have learned from Nick Cave's work that you can apply directly to BOTH your sculpture project AND your overall journey as an artist? Explain.