One of the central themes in Nick Cave’s practice is the body, often black male body, transformed through performance or sculpture. In the recent series Arm Peace, garlands of metal tole flowers are draped from bronze castings of the artist’s own forearm and torso. Cave’s sculptural practice can often be understood in dialogue with the gun violence found both within and against the African American community. Arm Peace serves as both a memorial for those the community has lost and an open-handed peace offering, a reminder of the potential for hope and renewal. Cave encourages a profound and compassionate analysis of violence and its effects as the path towards an ultimate metamorphosis.
About the artist
Nick Cave b. 1959, Fulton, Missouri, United States
Nick Cave is an artist, educator and foremost a messenger, working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. Cave is well known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body, initially created in direct response to the police beating of Rodney King in 1991. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment. They serve as a visual embodiment of social justice that represent both brutality and empowerment.
Throughout his practice, Cave has created spaces of memorial through combining found historical objects with contemporary dialogues on gun violence and death, underscoring the anxiety of severe trauma brought on by catastrophic loss. The figure remains central as Cave casts his own body in bronze, an extension of the performative work so critical to his oeuvre. Cave reminds us, however, that while there may be despair, there remains space for hope and renewal. From dismembered body parts stem delicate metal flowers, affirming the potential of new growth. Cave encourages a profound and compassionate analysis of violence and its effects as the path towards an ultimate metamorphosis. While Cave’s works are rooted in our current societal moment, when progress on issues of global warming, racism and gun violence (both at the hands of citizens and law enforcement) seem maddeningly stalled, he asks how we may reposition ourselves to recognize the issues, come together on a global scale, instigate change, and ultimately, heal.
Cave lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.