United States, born 1959
Fabric, sequins, beads, ceramic bird figurines, ceramic flowers, metal foliage, metal armature, and mannequin
98 x 34 x 26 in.
Weatherspoon Art Museum, UNC Greensboro. Museum purchase with funds provided by a challenge gift from Bob and Lissa Shelley McDowell and matched by other individuals in honor of the Museum’s 70th Anniversary, 2011.16.a.b
This sculpture of a mannequin wearing a steel headdress adorned with ceramic bird figurines and beaded necklaces bought from second-hand shops appears to be static and unchanging when displayed in a museum setting. However, the work is an example of Nick Cave’s wearable Soundsuits, renowned for their sounds and mobility when used in performances. Although the weight and fragility of this suit prohibits its actual use, imagine what sounds the materials would make in motion.
Cave began creating his Soundsuits in 1991 after seeing video of the brutal beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. Cave’s Soundsuits cover the wearer’s entire body, so they provide relief from discrimination based on race, gender, and class. The sculptures also examine labor-intensive craft traditions and the economic and intrinsic values of materials.
© Nick Cave