Nick Cave’s “Sound Suits”: Stunning, Wearable Art For Modern Witch Doctors

The group of six-foot-tall figures currently on view at Mary Boone Gallery are one part Abominable Snowman and one part Mardi Gras Indian, while the seven additional figures covered in buttons and sequins and connected by a cape look like the most fantastic tuba section every assembled. These “Soundsuits,” by the artist Nick Cave, are elaborate wearable sculptures made out of random materials like sticks, stuffed animals, sequins, and sock monkeys.

“It’s the materials that provide that impulse for me,” Cave tells Co.Design. “I may pass a beanie baby for 10 years, and then just one day, whoa, I’m vibing with something.” Cave, who runs the fashion department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, also has to take quantity into account. “I have to have a large volume of what I need to use.”

To hold the pieces together, he uses different types of knotting techniques that function as a webbing infrastructure. And a lot of the suits–like the ones made of rugs or twigs–also have armatures underneath them, mostly made of fabricated metal, to give it the necessary volume. And on top of that, he uses draping techniques for embellishment and added volume. “For the most part we’re building three-dimensional cloth,” Cave continues. “The combination of that in addition to the apparatus underneath creates an unusual thing that opens up ideas associated with architecture, or as a body as a carrier or shell.”

The Soundsuits are on view at Mary Boone Gallery in New York until October 22. More information here.JG