Studio Visit: Selected Gifts from Agnes Gund

Nick Cave. Soundsuit. 2011 28100

Found objects, metal armature, knit head and bodysuit, and mannequin, 10' 1" x 42" x 33" (307.3 x 106.7 x 83.8 cm). Gift of Agnes Gund in honor of Dr. Stuart W. Lewis. © Nick Cave

NICK CAVE: Hello, I'm Nick Cave. The title of the work is Soundsuit.

The first Soundsuit came out in response to the Rodney King incident in ‘92. And it was in outrage around the verdict of this individual that was violated by LA police. It was me asking myself what does it feel like to be discarded, viewed less than, dismissed as a black male?

I happened to be in the park one day and looked down on the ground and there was this twig. And I proceeded to collect all of these twigs. For some reason I found myself going back to my studio, building a sculpture. The moment I put it on and started to move, it made sound, and so that's how Soundsuit came about. And sound at that moment was my call for protest. It was a way of being heard.

After that original Soundsuit, what I found that I was interested in was this whole idea of discarded. And really started gathering materials at the flea markets and the antique malls. And so, for me, it's me sort of taking these objects and reintroducing them and giving them a new sort of role.”

As you're looking at this object, you find that it's made up of many different types of bird figurines, and these for me speak about diversity.

A lot of the things that you will find in a Soundsuit are things that we all recognize. You know, how do we look at things that are devalued, discarded, and bring a different kind of relevancy to them.

I met Agnes Gund probably about 10 years ago at one of my exhibitions in New York. She was very interested in the sort of magical, transformative aspect of the work.

Aggie has really been a critical supporter for artists, for placing artists in museums, providing them with the credibility. For me she was someone that really believed in the work. That changes how you see your future.

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