Nick Cave at Jack Shainman Gallery | Review by Jill Conner
Nick Cave's new collection of "Recent Soundsuits," at the Jack Shainman Gallery was more disappointing than it was interesting for a number of reasons. For one, never judge a show by its title. "Recent Soundsuits," would lead those who are unfamiliar with the artist's work to think this show would be a series of unique sound installations, whereas this new collection of body-covering sculptures are intended to serve as physical barriers that shut out the world. In addition, the postcard that depicted a figure blanketed with hand-knit bags suggested that this show would add some enlightenment to the current socio-economic malaise that so many of us currently find ourselves in. However upon entering the gallery, Cave's work launched into the redundant story of the everyday found object.
A series of small carnival figures hoisting an array of objects, such as wooden boats and porcelain birds, extend toward the back of the gallery and gradually prepare one for the artist's new collection of suits that consists of vibrant colors, on the one hand, and mounds of cheap tschochke on the other. In fact some of Cave's new suits look like umbrellas of metal fixtures that attach to the user's head. One consists of an array of metal flowers that extend to the waist while another features a series of large spinning tops and gizmos.
Each one of Cave's sculptures doubles as a very ornate costume that appears to be unusable. The overuse of the daily object also places strong references upon hand-craft that appear primarily in the religious, ritualistic garb found among members of African tribes. While Cave attempts to transform an indigenous concept into something much more fashionable, one can not help but think about those cultures that struggle to live beyond the economic pressures of the Western world. The cargo cults of New Guinea, for instance, place a spiritual significance upon American clothes and products while other societies that thrive within Africa continue to incorporate the daily object into their designs, even if some of those elements are no longer natural in origin but rather thrown-away items found within their surrounding environment.