A Nick Cave Survey: Brutality, Bedazzled

In 1992, when Nick Cave made his first soundsuit, the ornate, full-body garments for which he is best known, it was his response to the beating of Rodney King by police officers. Cave has described this genesis as “an inflammatory response,” a conduit of rage and helplessness channeled into something both theoretically wearable and visually striking.

The first suit, with its prickly skin of twigs and branches, was a remedy both to racial profiling and bodily vulnerability — armor as protest. That the soundsuits’ relevance has sustained, 30 years on, represents both a triumph for the 63-year-old artist and unyielding nightmare. Cave has created nearly 500 examples.

A version from 2011,

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