Performance artist Nick Cave is known worldwide for his works, which are – to say the least – UNdisputedly UNcommon! SRAC is bringing Nick Cave to Shreveport Common to showcase the stories of four Social Service Organizations – Providence House, Mercy Center, VOA Lighthouse, and VOA McAdoo - and cultivates the artistic vision of this once-blighted neighborhood.
Cave’s education is as varied as his Sound Suit design: from dance training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in NYC, to visual arts study in Missouri and now, Director of the Fashion Graduate Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Cave uses such a varied background to design larger-than-life creations, with a larger-than-society message. Cave has received numerous awards for his sculptures and designs, including (but not limited to) the Artadia Award, the Creative Capital Grants Award, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award.
Internationally-renowned Cave is famous for his Sound Suits, sculptures scaled to his body and covered in everything from spinning tops attached by wire to long, shaggy fur. These “sculptures,” often worn by real people, can move, bounce, and dance, allowing their materials to move naturally and creating a sensational spectacle. Juxtaposing the suits opposite bare, white walls allows the viewer an uninhibited visual experience.
Nick Cave’s pieces strive for a progressive but subtle message, blurring the lines between genders, sexuality, and race by hiding them behind beautifully detailed and “compositely random” fashion pieces which span the length of his own body. The materials he uses range anywhere from kaleidoscopic fur to carefully woven flowers and even randomly assorted toys and baubles. He often uses these suits in performance pieces, either alone or in a group of other meticulously crafted and faceless-costumed characters.
Cave followed his Sound Suits with a public performance at Grand Central Station in New York City, HEARD•NY. This display also included full-body suits for performers, but of a much different ilk. Dancers donned horse-shape suits made of material resembling hula skirts, in a variety of vibrant colors. The performers came together to wiggle and shake, making their “manes” sway and captivating bystanders. While completely different in scope, both of these well-known exhibitions encapsulate a central idea: removing the elements of judgement and difference to create a whole. Wearing a Sound Suit or a horse’s body covered in colors eliminates almost all of society’s discriminating factors: race, gender, age, and class cease to exist.
It is with this idea of coming together to form a whole that SRAC welcomes Cave for a five-month residency, from July to November, 2015. In a brand new collaboration, he will work with both local artists and participants from VOA McAdoo Center, VOA Lighthouse, Providence House, and Mercy Center. Cave and his team will create a visual experience, culminating with a performance mid-November at the Municipal Auditorium. Much as removing one sense heightens others, Cave’s collaboration will silence difference as the teams visually tell their own stories through color, movement, and personal experience.
This residency engages the collaborative effort of local artists and designers who will work side-by-side with Nick Cave to see his Shreveport Common Vision come to fruition. The week leading up to the work’s debut will include an intensive rehearsal and assemblage of the work, but the residency in its entirety will take five months to complete. Under his tutelage, artists will—from start to finish—learn how he produces performance pieces, develops the concepts of his “Sound Suits”, and they will ultimately understand his “PERFORMATIVE MESSAGING” techniques—the means in which he is able to “see, hear, interpret, and create” new works based upon his participants needs and expectations. The project will also develop a long-term program dedicated to the outreach and inclusion of local artists to the Shreveport Common Social Service Organizations.