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The Kid Should See This

Nick Cave’s Soundsuits

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For over three decades, artist and dancer Nick Cave has been known for his Soundsuits—colorful, textural, camouflaging garments that make frictional sounds as they move. The suits are an everchanging combination of creative expression, empowerment, and defensive armor. Art21 summarizes that each piece is an “alien second skin that obscures race, gender, and class, allowing viewers to look without bias towards the wearer’s identity.”

Vogue featured this mix of fashion, dance, sculpture, textile arts, and social commentary during a 2014 Soundsuit performance in Kinderhook, New York, above.

Nick Cave Soundsuits
In the 2008 video below, Cave discusses his very first Soundsuit, a 1992 piece made from found twigs that—as he only discovered while wearing it—rustled as he moved.

With hundreds of pieces in his oeuvre, Nick Cave has continued to create, reflect upon, and reimagine the decades-old project. He discussed his soundsuits in this video from WBEZ Chicago, who asked “What is a Soundsuit all about?

“It’s really sort of about me sort of creating this three-dimensional sort of cloth that conceals the body. And so, for me, it operates as this form of protection…”


“Material has always been a language that i’ve used and so I’m always sort of invested in research and looking for new ways of making incorporating the new shapes, forms… You know, I have put Soundsuits on hiatus at times and moved on, in terms of my development, but when I come back to them I’m always coming back with a new point of view.”

Artist Nick Cave
More from The Guardian: Artist Nick Cave’s wild and whimsical soundsuits – in pictures.

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A New Republic: The portrait work of artist Kehinde Wiley
The Embroidered Art of Meredith Woolnough
Bisa Butler: Portraits, an Exhibition Story from The Art Institute of Chicago

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