I was working in creative environments, but internally… I wasn’t happy. And I think the moment we all get outside of these communities and neighborhoods in which we’ve been raised, and we operate in the world, our purpose is very different. The buoyant appearance of the Soundsuits, composed of kitschy materials such as beads and plastic tchotchkes, belies their serious connotations. See available sculpture, design, and paintings for sale and learn about the artist. That’s the shit that’s important —creating these platforms for people to see what is possible, what their future could look like. That was my first reaction—just, “What is going on here?” Because it’s very imposing, especially for a kid. Its formality is based there, but there’s a higher reason for the delivery. My projects are like deeds that I need to deliver, and then I move on. And it’s really whether or not we can step up to fear. Nick Cave—When the project was offered, the curator wanted me to establish new work that was not Soundsuits; I was already in the process of moving away from them. That whole project came out of, I think it was Freddie Gray had just [died]. It’s interesting because, with an artist like Matthew Barney, his films are kind of the works, and then if there’s a prop from the film, some collector will scoop it up. On October 16, 2016, Cave’s largest and most personal installation opened at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams (MASS MoCA). Now I’m in this extraordinary place of creativity and way of working, and hopefully hosting the communities and providing other people platforms to stand on, and to see what’s possible. I graduated from high school in 2009, but it was a very homophobic environment and it was very… That still lingers, to the point where I’m a very different person if I go back now. Learn more about our use of cookies: cookie policy, Exclusive interviews and the latest on fashion, music, culture and art, An Interview with Kiddy Smile: Resistance Movement. You flatten as you go. Sep 9, 2011. As a creative person, you’re the judge of the time you’re alone. NC: While I was in school there, there was this junior high school that we occupied, so we each had this amazing studio. I would go to the Museum of Natural History and look at all these artifacts and art objects, which all served a purpose within a particular culture. NC: For the most part, it’s the latter. I’m telling you, there were times when I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t… this isn’t working.” But there was something bigger— bigger than me. I never know what to tell them. NC: What I would like the future to look like is I would love to be able to create these projects, these dream projects, where they are permanent. MB: That’s crazy. Then it became a square at the head, and it was 8ft tall. So it’s really lived in this un-peculiar kind of place that tends to arouse some sort of emotion. The whole, “Shit, I need to buy food, but I’m gonna buy art supplies.” It was all a gamble and about falling on your face. At the moment, we are planning the programming for the MASS MoCA project, with a series of performances in the space over the next year. So it was really about stripping down one’s identity and building oneself. The exhibition is really intended to be a shared experience. Browse NickCave.com for live dates, lyrics, news, films and official store. All around the world, they would have permanent residencies. The work may be incorporated in the performance or it may not be. I just thought, “Wow, this is amazing. And I’m adopted, so I don’t really know. That is not quite from this place. The first Soundsuit was a response to the beating of Rodney King, and more recently you created a Soundsuit after Trayvon Martin’s death, called TM13. MB: Right. Later he fabricated a symbolic suit of armor, using hundreds of collected twigs. Because you’ve said that you want to flatten class and race, and all of these aspects disappear with the suits. And yet in a peculiar way, it also evokes some sort of strong belief or optimism. We spoke with Cave at his home base of Chicago, Illinois, about his life’s work and practice. It has gotten me to face who I am. I find that I work in this very particular way, where I’m interested in making objects and then bringing them to a performance platform. For example, Solange Knowles will perform there. I know it will be immersive and it will be joyful, and scary, like it was when you first saw a [Soundsuit]. NC: I just never close the store—it took about 10 years for it to really take form. The way I work is that I’m pretty quiet until I’m ready to hit. Interview by Stanley Nelson at the artist’s studio in Chicago on December 15, 2015. When I first saw [the suit], I never thought about any of the connotations of the creation of the Soundsuits. The Rodney King beating put me in the position to be the voice of the innocent. Photo: Casey Jones. I am an artist with civic responsibility. I don’t necessarily mean what show have you got coming up next, I hate asking people that, but what do you want to accomplish next? For the MASS MoCA show, I wanted to put the viewer into the metaphorical belly of a Soundsuit. They are just the vessel, your performances are very people-based. And empowerment. I’m sort of in hiding when I go home, because I can’t bear to see anyone. Once I came to terms with that, the art thing became very different for me. Twitter. Interview ; Art; Share. I thought, “I’ve got to figure this out.” But I’m one of the lucky ones. The city is known for its musical history—the term “Elvis has left the building” was coined there. NC: Yeah, it’s happening again and I think right now… I’m just one person, you know? Portrait by Sandro. I’ve been looking for a building for about five years. For me, it was the police chasing a minority. We’re living in a time where we can find ways of working that can inform as well as find common ground. You’re holding up my back, I’m holding up your back. I feel like I’m protected only in the privacy of my own space; the moment that I walk out of my home, I can be profiled, and I am looked at very differently. Nick Cave: 'I have to spend hours talking to fucking idiots like you' It's August 1988 and the Bad Seeds frontman and 'journalist's nightmare' is in ferocious, fighting form. So I’m like, “OK, this object was used in this particular ritual for this purpose.”. That was my first Nick Cave moment. Three years ago, the museum’s curator Denise Markonish invited Cave to show in the notorious Building 5 at MASS MoCA, a cavernous space as long as a football field, but her invitation came with a caveat: no Soundsuits. You know how sometimes we’re scared, but at the same time we’re drawn to something that’s seducing us? You can’t really define it. I can only present a project, but then I’m thinking, “OK, now who are my ambassadors who can also filter this information out into the world, into the communities and be proactive in that way?”. It’s not a very accessible venue, necessarily. It’s me looking at black-on-black crime. You pass through this [immersive] environment to find the video installation. I’m horrible at it. MB: Yeah. MB: I read somewhere that you started making these Soundsuits as a way of creating your own armor, a form of protection. That’s what’s gonna set you free. In addition to the value is this vast library of video works and performance works. Because I think it’s all about service— like, how do we [offer a] service to the world? NC: No. It was very much about that. MB: Totally. When I go home for Christmas, I have couple of brothers who still live in Missouri and they’re like, “So-and-so wants to see you.” And I’m like, “No. You’ve said that you look for a sense of humility in the objects and materials you use in your sculptures. The Missouri native and his team assemble thrift … MB: Right. NC: Yeah. This is interesting. Harnessing the Penchant for Play Teaching with Contemporary Art Without the people, there wouldn’t be art. And so, through these horrific tragedies that we face daily, it was my next mission, my task, to deliver that project. NC: Exactly. These are the sorts of things that allowed me to look at that and go, “OK, you can have a successful career.” It wasn’t really until graduate school and probably toward the end of my graduate studies where I was like, “Oh.” It’s not like you leave this creative world of school with a manual of how to do it… That doesn’t exist. So the thing about “The Let Go” and working with these individuals, it was these testimonies that these kids were willing to share. Graduating from Hickman High School in 1977, he enrolled … Nick Cave – Soundsuits, 2013, 2016, 2011 Nick Cave – Soundsuit. How does the question, “Is there racism in heaven?” connect to the show’s title, Until? MB: I definitely saw that in “The Let Go” with Jorell Williams and the Sing Harlem Choir. I also wanted to ask you about Texas. Eventually you come to this landscape of mountains made of beaded camouflage nets. You have to trust that I can make it. So, it’s going to be all of that. MB: That’s awesome. 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