According to 2017 police records, 900 incidents of gun violence have taken place from the start of the year. For many people, this is just news that seems normal and out there. For artist Nick Cave, it is an issue of deep concern, and the best way to embrace those who go through it every day, especially the families, is art. In his most recent exhibition, Nick has created a multi-part installation that requires moving through the huge hall at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, for the complete picture.
Nick Cave’s ‘Until’
In the installation, Nick puts together different environments that he represents by using colorful tchotchkes, crystals, chandeliers to a garden made from faux with ceramic birds and everything you would expect to find in a garden. For Cave, this setup is like being in the belly of one of his sound-suits. He made the sound suits in 1992 as a response to the public beating that Rodney King of Los Angeles suffered at the hands of the police. He had been using the colorful full-body garments to make a statement against black brutality in the United States, but that does not seem to be enough.
What motivated Cave to create this work?
More than 20 years later, he has seen the level of violence against people of color, and being an artist, decided to confront issues more head-on. Such great sentiment can only be held by someone who has been at the center of the violence, which has been Cave’s life. As a citizen of the United States, his interest lies not in the history that has been recorded so far but on action taken so far to ensure that it never happens again. This is the basis on which Until was created and manifests the urgency with which the situation must be handled. The sheer scale of the project is sensational owing to its magical sight and beauty, yet beneath it is a message that is not as pretty.
Video: Nick Cave speaks about ‘Until’
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Through this project, Cave has set the stage for other members of the community and beyond to get involved in this difficult conversation. For him, it is not enough to paint the pictures of the devastation that exists when violence is inflicted; the dialogue is needed in the same way that town hall gatherings are used to address social issues. There are already several collaborators who are using Until to make their contribution to shun violence; books have been published on the issue, and songs sung to bring attention to the rot. Until this state of affairs takes a turn for the better, Cave and all those who believe in his work will not relent.