Art In Action

December 7, 2018
LIKE A DREAM Dancers perform in Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, turning a train station into a strange new world.
MIKE COPPOLA—GETTY IMAGES

It was an ordinary day at Grand Central Terminal, in New York City. People were rushing through the busy train station. Then the creatures showed up.

They were green, red, and shades of blue. When they moved, they whooshed like leaves in the wind. They waddled, stomped, and shimmied to a drumbeat. People stopped and fixed their eyes on the dancing beasts. It was like stepping into a different world.

That’s what artist Nick Cave wants us to feel. He created the costumes, called Soundsuits. They make us wonder: “Who are these creatures? How should I relate to them?”

“I want a viewer to reflect on how they respond to someone or something unlike themselves,” Cave told TIME for Kids. “[The experience is] about difference and the power of uniqueness.”

MULTIMEDIA Nick Cave’s work blends sculpture, sound, and movement.

JAMES PRINZ PHOTOGRAPHY

New Life

The Soundsuits for the Grand Central performance were made of raffia. It’s a strawlike fiber made from palm leaves.

But Cave also makes suits with other materials: sequins, buttons, blankets, porcelain birds, and toys. A collection of his suits is now on display at the Orlando Museum of Art, in Florida. The exhibition runs through December 30.

Cave says putting one on allows him to be seen without prejudice. “It hides gender, race, and class,” he says. “It is an extremely liberating feeling.”

The suits can liberate a person watching, too. “[The suits] open the door to imagination,” says Coralie Claeysen-Gleyzon. She is a curator at the museum. “They help you project what you could be, what you could create.”

Feeling energized? Take a lesson from the artist. Cave says he gets his best ideas by keeping his eyes open. “The places and people I come across every day are the greatest and most surprising inspirations.”