Nick Cave’s Soundsuits brings found object sculpture to life

His new work, Up Right Atlanta, is a collaboration with choreographer T. Lang
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Cave made seven new Soundsuits for the performance, constructed from synthetic raffia and hair, metal, fabric, and found objects. Cave created his first Soundsuit from twigs in 1992 as a response to the L.A. police beating of Rodney King. Each Soundsuit weighs 30 to 50 pounds and takes four to six months to build.
Cave made seven new Soundsuits for the performance, constructed from synthetic raffia and hair, metal, fabric, and found objects. Cave created his first Soundsuit from twigs in 1992 as a response to the L.A. police beating of Rodney King. Each Soundsuit weighs 30 to 50 pounds and takes four to six months to build.

James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

When we think of sculpture, noisemaking costumes crafted from found objects don’t usually come to mind. But Chicago-based artist Nick Cave has always defied categorization, creating works that straddle performance art, sculpture, and dance. His fantastical Soundsuits are striking enough as display pieces; when worn by dancers, they spring to life—whooshing, rustling, tinkling, rattling. Sponsored by Flux Projects, Cave’s new work, “Up Right Atlanta,” is a collaboration with local choreographer T. Lang. The production features 14 of the signature suits, including the one above.

Nick Cave
“When I was inside a suit, you couldn’t tell if I was a woman or man; if I was black, red, green, or orange,” Cave told the New York Times in 2009. “I was no longer Nick. I was a shaman of sorts.”

On the calendar On April 24–26, performance artist and sculptor Nick Cave and local choreo­grapher T. Lang collaborate for Up Right Atlanta, a show at Ponce City Market. fluxprojects.org

This article originally appeared in our April 2015 issue.

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