After reviewing and editing the work of Dawn Dupree and Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor I came across the work of Nick Cave at the Tramway in Glasgow on Saturday 16th November 2019. Tramway was in the process of presenting his first exhibition in Europe entitled Until. Nick Cave a renown contemporary performance and visual artist and activist from Chicago had created a stunning large-scale installation which was both engaging and mesmerising. Until is made up of thousands of found objects which create an enthralling sensory display which envelope the audience. The volume of the material used is staggering including 16,000 laser cut metallic multi-coloured wind mobiles of which a significant percentage are spinning in constant motion creating a myriad of strobing effects. Alongside this are millions of plastic pony beads woven together with messages as murals which hang as wall tapestries of vibrant colour and act as the backdrop to the rest of the installation. Within the centre of the exhibition there was a canopy with 10 miles of crystals, 24 chandeliers and a labyrinth of objects on top of the lighting on a raised platform including a crocodile, 17 cast-iron black-faced lawn jockeys, garish ceramic tchotchkes, gramophone speakers and dried flowers. Such found objects represented American history especially racist memorabilia which has often been integrated into the artist’s work.
On closer inspection through all the beauty, sparkle and bling there is an underlying theme of confrontation as the imagery includes guns, targets and teardrops. Through the enormity of scale, the artist wished to bring to the attention of many audiences the violence that continues to be perpetrated against communities of colour. Specifically, the deaths of African Americans in police custody including gun violence, gender politics and racial profiling was the artists focus. The title stemmed from the play on “Innocent until proven guilty, guilty until proven innocent” In doing so the goal was to illicit uncomfortable emotion, to evoke a response. The sheer scale of the installation meant that the messages could not be ignored or overlooked to help affect positive change. The artists political and social agenda was to create a space where all those involved and affected can come and talk, to come together to share difficult conversations facing their communities. So, the installation is more than just an exhibition it is a community forum and movement towards innovative change within the immediate and local communities.
As is customary with this worldwide tour each space which has exhibited this installation makes a commitment towards change during the exhibition and after the installation moves onto a new site, to continue the theme of social justice and community engagement. Tramway Until gallery space has and will become a space for local artists and community groups to present their own responses to the exhibition, to continue to extend and develop his work. Nick Cave has a long tradition of creating complex and beautiful sculptural pieces which all evolved from political protest and aim to shine a light on issues concerning race, gender and identity. Cave is best known for his Soundsuits series which consist of 500 costumes with each one covering an entire body as if a second skin to hide identity. These Soundsuits are skilfully made from a range of materials and objects to represent social culture. Cave has been deeply influenced by African art traditions, ceremonial dress, armour, designed textiles and haute-couture fashion as well as choreography and dance to produce one-off pieces of art. Such creations are completely spellbinding through their meaning, design, beauty, construction, detailing and complexity.