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Soundsuits: Nick Cave’s Noisy Human Masquerade Ball

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Nick Cave (born February 4, 1959 in Fulton, Missouri) crafts Soundsuits: intriguing, captivating, expressive, unnerving, otherworldly yet familiar and downright peculiar wearable fabric sculptures. Soundsuits wrap the wearer’s entire body in scavenged materials: twigs, dyed human hair, sisal, fake fur, wire, dolls, horns and other noisemakers, sequins, plastic buttons, beads, sequins, feathers, toys and all manner of other recycled and found items.

“I spend a lot of time at flea markets,” says Nick Cave. “I’ll fly to Washington State, rent a van and stop at flea markets on my way back across the country. I don’t know what I’m looking for.”

The finished pieces bear resemblance to African ceremonial costumes and masks. Soundsuits, says Cave, suggest a place of escape and safety. Whoever is inside is hidden, free from discrimination.

 

soundsuit nick cave

 

Cave’s first Soundsuit was created in 1992, as a reaction to the beating of Rodney King (1991). Cave collected a large number of sticks and twigs from the ground and fashioned them into a suit that made sound when worn…

“I started thinking about the role of identity, being racial profiled, feeling devalued, less than, dismissed. And then I happened to be in the park this one particular day, and looked down at the ground and there was a twig. And I just thought, well, that’s discarded, and it’s sort of insignificant. And so I just started then gathering the twigs, and before I knew it, I was, had built a sculpture.”…

“I put it on and jumped around and was just amazed. It made this fabulous rustling sound. And because it was so heavy, I had to stand very erect, and that alone brought the idea of dance back into my head.”

 

soundsuit nick cave

 

“The hair creates an animal sensibility,” said Mr. Cave, who is himself bald, with a trim gray goatee. “You know it’s hair, but you don’t know where it comes from. It’s seductive but also a bit scary.”

 

soundsuit nick cave

 

“For the most part we’re building three-dimensional cloth,” Cave continues. “The combination of that in addition to the apparatus underneath creates an unusual thing that opens up ideas associated with architecture, or as a body as a carrier or shell.”

 

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Via Jack Shaiman

  • njguy54

    Hmm… wondering if any of these would be considered business casual…

  • Jaimie Rain

    This is not the Nick Cave I was expecting…..