Original and otherworldly, Nick Cave's art blends the boundaries between sculpture, costume, video, dance and public performance in unexpected ways. The Peabody Essex Museum
continues its growing contemporary art program with three never-before-seen Nick Cave Soundsuits made especially for this exhibition, alongside his immersive film projection. FreePort [No. 006]: Nick Cave is on view at PEM March 2 through May 27, 2013.
Cave's humanoid Soundsuit sculptures are built from a diverse bricolage of found objects and materials collected by the artist, including twigs, sisal, beads, sequins and feathers. When worn, Cave's Soundsuits take on a larger-than-life dimension, obscuring the wearer's identity, gender and class and unleashing the sculpture's kinetic potential. Drawing on his experience with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Cave choreographs performers' movements to activate the Soundsuits' inherent motion and highlight their mesmerizing appeal. Two Soundsuit performance films, Drive-by and Clowning, will be presented in conjunction with this exhibition.
"The physicality of Nick Cave's Soundsuits invites viewers to imagine what it might feel like to inhabit one. Textural, faceless, disorienting and enigmatic, Cave's Soundsuits are whimsical, but project a certain power," says Trevor Smith, PEM's curator of contemporary art. "We are excited to share this groundbreaking artist with our visitors and we hope to expand the definition of what performance art can be."
Cave was born in Fulton, Missouri in 1959. He lives and works in Chicago where he is a professor of fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The three Soundsuits featured in this exhibition are among the last that the artist intends to create. Cave, who since the early 1990s has created more than 500 Soundsuits, plans to explore new artistic avenues.