Soundsuits

It’s the silly season of grants and residency applications while practicing, performing, editing, cleaning up old scores, and publishing a single. The latter things are fine, and necessarily detailed. But the process of applying for the ever-diminishing resources with pages of carefully crafted answers is just a preciously curated bundle of screams. One granting organization has the audacity to say it whittled its questions from dozens to just seven questions – and should only take an hour. Really? On what planet? (answer: Mercury). Numerous residencies charge application fees, and charge for room and board if you are selected from their large pool of applicants. It would be more honest to say they are Airbnbs for artists. Oh and they suggest free community presentations too. Bah.

Thank god for the work itself, as a (the only) world that makes sense, and praise be the artists who endlessly sacrifice every bit of consciousness unto their work. And so it was I went to the Nick Cave retrospective “Forothermore” at the Guggenheim last weekend. All hail Nick Cave. For years I had confused the name Nick Cave here in the US with the Australian punk Nick Cave whose concert I went to in the 80s in New Zealand (where university boys beat each other to a pulp as the band howled). I’m glad I figured out the mighty difference. The trajectory, detail and depth of African American Nick Cave’s work makes me feel it’s all worth it. What’s not to love about work that is playful, embraces the discarded, protects its people, and rages against injustice.

Cave conceived of his Soundsuits series after the beating of Rodney King in 1991. He started to sew twigs into a suit of armor, envisioning it as a way to obscure his queer Black identity while amplifying his otherness. The name Soundsuits comes from wearing the garment, that moving in it was the protest against brutality, and that “in order to be heard, you gotta make sound”.

Yes please.

Posted in Visual Arts