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The Madness of Nick Cave 

Wednesday, Mar 25 2009
Artist Nick Cave didn’t decide to call his art “Soundsuits” until he climbed into one and started moving around. He liked what he heard; a swishy, ritualistic twiggy noise. It sounded like that because he made this particular piece out of hundreds, maybe thousands, of twigs, which he painstakingly affixed to yards of fabric; and it’s not so much a suit of twigs as something you don for a pagan celebration in Norway. It does produce a nice sound, but it’s primarily a visual feast, as is every one of his Soundsuits. They span a dizzying array of styles, hinting at a variety of genres but landing on none, from Broadway costume, couture, and ritual garb to Saturday morning cartoons, with a light dusting of LSD over everything. The materials, too, are fascinating: Everything is scavenged, found, repurposed from culture and nature both, from beads and bottle caps to leaves and hair. It’s all over the top, but also impeccably finished, as Tim Gunn might say — Cave is the chairman of the fashion department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (and no relation to the musician, obviously). The exhibit “Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth” marks the largest collection of his works to date, with more than 50 towering creations strewn about the gallery space like a mad fashion house, with videos of the suits doing what they were meant to do: produce sound, which results from the materials rubbing together when their hosts dance. Starting May 28, these sounds come alive, as choreographer Ronald K. Brown teams up with Cave for the live performance Nick Cave Soundsuits Collaboration.
March 27-July 5, 2009

About The Author

Michael Leaverton


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