Cave’s training in dance choreography and textile art inspired him to create sculptural costumes that he named Soundsuits, after the noises they emitted when in motion. To make this particular Soundsuit, which is not meant to be worn, Cave repurposed ceramic elements that he found in markets, thrift stores, and antique shops. By reclaiming items that once served a different function, the artist asks, as he put it, “How do we . . . look at things that are devalued, discarded, and bring a different kind of relevancy to them?”
Cave created the first Soundsuit in response to the brutal beating of Rodney King by police officers in Los Angeles in 1991. By rendering their wearers at once hyper-visible and anonymous, the suits represent the position of those members of society who are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement and whose individual humanity is often denied. Soundsuits also offer protection: the ornamental headdresses obscure and transform the identities of those who wear them, obstructing bias on the basis of race, gender, and class.
Gallery label from Studio Visit: Selected Gifts from Agnes Gund, 2018