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In the Belly of the Soundsuit: How Nick Cave: Until Came To Be

Is there racism in heaven? 

This question stuck with artist Nick Cave and blossomed into an experience that will soon be available at the Momentary: Nick Cave: Until. 

In 1992 Chicago, Cave reflected on the Rodney King incident of police brutality that was taking place in Los Angeles. Using found objects such as twigs in the park, he created his very first Soundsuit, a wearable sculpture that defends the body and masks identity. Since then, he has created over 500 Soundsuits.

In Nick Cave: Until, Cave embarks on his largest and most ambitious project yet. This immersive installation is meant to place its viewers inside the metaphorical belly of one of his Soundsuits. 

Nick Cave: Until Photo: Courtesy MASS MoCA.

According to Cave, Until came about after the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, Missouri. “I really hadn’t thought about what I was going to do until that incident happened and then, all of a sudden, it became very clear,” said Cave. The title Until references the phrase “innocent until proven guilty,” or, a reversal, “guilty until proven innocent.”

With the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, the absurd number of Black men and women who have been murdered by police brutality, leading up to this week’s events involving Jacob Blake, who was shot in the back seven times by police while his children watched from the car, it is urgent for us to address the issue of gun violence in the US. With Until, Cave provides a place where we can reflect on this topic and come face to face with our societal role in this issue.

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Nick Cave: Until Photo: Courtesy MASS MoCA.

When you walk into the Momentary’s gallery spaces beginning September 12, be prepared to not just view the work, but become fully engaged in it. Be prepared to walk a path immersed in a wind spinner forest with images of bullets, guns, and targets all around you. Climb a ladder to a crystal cloud and discover its private garden filled with found objects, ceramic figures, and black-face lawn jockeys. Walk underneath a cliff wall hand-woven with shoelaces and hundreds of thousands of colorful pony beads. And much more.

According to MASS MoCA, the organizing institution for Nick Cave: Until, “the aim of this is pointed, questioning us to spark discussion about important issues in a space that is at once dazzling, provocative, and—ultimately—optimistic.”

Learn more about how Nick Cave: Until came to be from the artist himself, Nick Cave, in this video produced by Carriageworks, and mark your calendar for September 12:

Video created by Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia.

Nick Cave: Until is free to view.

Nick Cave: Until was curated by Denise Markonish, MASS MoCA, and organized for the Momentary by Lauren Haynes. The exhibition was organized by MASS MoCA and co-produced with Carriageworks, Sydney, Australia, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Principal exhibition support was provided by an anonymous gift. Major exhibition support was provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Barr Foundation, the Mass Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, Jack Shainman Gallery, Marilyn and Larry Fields, BeadKraft, and the Robert Lehman Foundation.

Sponsored at the Momentary by Cox Communications, Goldman Sachs, Airways Freight Corp., Sarah Simmons, Anna and Carl George, Esther Silver-Parker, Visit Bentonville, Greenwood Gearhart, J&D Pallets, Atreides Management, LP, Caryl Stern and Donald LaRosa, Demara Titzer, and Tony Waller.