Mid Earth

nick-cave-meet-meNick Cave: Meet Me At The Center Of The Earth by Nick Cave, Dan CameronKate Eilertsen, Pam McClusky, Kenneth J. Foster. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 2009. 9780615245935

Gene: This is my WOW. And I’m wondering what we’re going to do the first time a WOW fails. Will we fake it? Will we not fake it?

(Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen today.)

Did you get to the Seattle Art Museum a few years ago to see the Nick Cave exhibit? He’s an artist and a dancer and a craftsperson who makes soundsuits. They’re made from reclaimed/recycled materials, and a lot of them (maybe all of them) are made for dancing.  This one is made from old bags and hats from thrift stores.

Sarah: Yes!

G: And look, there’s a person wearing it.

S: Oh woah! Yeah!

G: The soundsuits can be miraculously weird shapes. Sometimes they look like animals. Or like a junk store shelf.

S: Buttons!

G: I think of that as the Pac-Man soundsuit. (It’s covered in buttons.)  You can clearly see someone is wearing it.

S: Does he make them himself or does he hire the work out?

G: He used to make them all by himself and now (there’s an interview in the back) he says he makes about half of them. He has assistants now. He’s from a family with a large number of kids and he’s used to repurposing things.  I knew you’d like this.

S: Hand-me-downs!

G: When this was in Seattle there were performances, too.

The first soundsuits in the book are covered in buttons and other things, but later in the book there are soundsuits covered in ceramic animal figures…

S: It really reminds me of the full body costumes of African dancers that I saw in a museum in Brooklyn.

G: Yeah. They’re a statement about diversity and inclusion…look at this one, which has an abacus for a face. Doesn’t it remind you of the robot prince in Saga? (Sarah shook her head. Me: What? You don’t read Saga?!?)

And this soundsuit is made of recycled afghans and socks.

S: That’s great!

G: Some people try to say Nick Cave is a craftsperson, others that he’s an artist. They see those as separate.

S: Well because if women can do it, then it’s not art, and if men do it it’s art. I have a maker program at the library that involves crochet and men don’t see it as a maker program.

G: (I still suck at crochet.) I could totally see you making these now that I’ve seen your house.

S: I’ll show you my doily stash.

G: My favorite sound suits are covered with sticks of about the same thickness. This one looks like one of those Scandinavian Christmas trolls to me. I saw an exhibit of photographs in Toronto a few years ago, photos of people in Christmas troll costumes made of fur and plants and things you’d find in forests. Really reminded me of these.

And then these are the ones that are made for dancing, which appeared around Seattle when the exhibit was at the art museum. They’re made from human hair.

S: Really? Because it looks a lot like fun fur.

G: But it falls straight down. And when they dance it goes every which way.

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