Discussion Questions: Nick Cave’s Soundsuit

Artwork image, Nick Cave, Soundsuit

Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2009; collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund purchase; © Nick Cave; photo: James Prinz Photography, courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

  1. How would you describe this work to someone who can’t see it?
  2. Imagine wearing this Soundsuit. What sounds do you think it would make? What do you see that makes you say that? How would you move to create the sounds?
  3. The Soundsuits came into being as a response to what the artist saw as injustices in racial profiling—the demeaning of people based on how they look:
And then I started thinking about the role of identity, being racially profiled, feeling devalued, less than, dismissed. And then I happened to be in the park this one particular day, and looked down at the ground and there was a twig. And I just thought, well, that’s discarded, and sort of insignificant. And so I just started then gathering the twigs, and before I knew it, I had built a sculpture.

How does knowing this change the way you see and understand this work?

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