Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spelunking Nick Cave

Adele, Roger and I took a recent jaunt over to the Fowler at UCLA to see the Nick Cave show. I have been wanting to see this for some time. I'm glad Adele took the initiative to organize the trip. I had already missed a couple performances featuring the costumes (or Soundsuits) so it was mandatory I saw the show.

No photos and no touching. Are they serious? This is the modern age, there are tiny cameras in every pocket. How do museums expect to enforce this rule? Futile. Anyway, I was able to sneak a few shots in.

Nick Cave's elaborate Soundsuits are immaculate and refined. Their height is impressive and seems natural at about 8 feet. Steel welded armatures hold various assortments of consumer items like old toy tops or in a couple cases porcelain figurines. The suits display complicated designs done with sewed sequins, crochet, fun fur, buttons, lots and lots of buttons. They had a folk art feel to them. Fantastic. You gotta see this show.

Next door in an adjacent gallery was an exhibit called Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives. In it were folk items from all over the world, some contemporary, some ancient. The exhibit included masks and costumes used in various folk and religious ceremonies. The resemblance to some of the Nick Cave items was remarkable. There was even a video of a folk ceremony in New Caledonia I think that featured and outfit with long fringe similar to one of Nick's. The movements of the performer (shaman, priest, not sure) in that costume were almost identical to the video of the dancer in the Nick Cave suit. Pretty fascinating. What Nick Cave is doing here seems to be a contemporary version of these folk ceremonies.

Adele, Roger and I got to talking about the inspiration for the dances. We were wondering if the concept came first for the dance or did the costume design the dance itself. I leaned toward the idea that the suit designs the choreography. The materials and the sounds they make demand certain movements. Anyway, judge for yourself. The show is still up through May 30th.

Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth
January 10, 2010 to May 30, 2010

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