Nick Cave, the sculptor, dancer and performance artist, is well known for combining fashion, surreal design, and everyday objects to make his unique "soundsuits." These full-sized and wearable suits are strange-to-behold costumes displayed on stands or worn by performers and dancers, and sometimes by Cave himself. Soundsuits have been made of human hair, aluminum, wire and feather, and, like normal clothing, serve different purposes. The first soundsuit was constructed to provide armor to those threatened by the police state in the wake of the Rodney King beating. Others are celebratory costumes for rituals like carnivale or a ballroom dance. Oftentimes, these second skins are intended to block understanding of the wearer's gender, race, or class, making the identity of the wearer fluid.
Cave's sculpted objects are similarly often collages of everyday objects, which, when brought together, speak to the overcoming of trauma caused by the dominance of white men in American society. The way everyday objects can be infused with dream-like power is a central theme of Cave's work. Back in October, he gave "instigator objects" to UW-Whitewater, students who will also give presentations based on their objects at this lecture. These objects and their changing symbolic power will be forced into a dialogue between the young artists and the visiting lecturer, transforming aspects of Cave's talk that would usually exist in the ephemerality of language into physical and visual displays. —Reid Kurkerewicz