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Higher Repurpose

Nick Cave didn’t decide to call his artworks “Soundsuits” until he climbed into one and started moving around. Then, the former Alvin Ailey dancer (no relation to the cult musician) liked what he heard: a swishy, ritualistic, twiggy noise. It sounded like that because he made this particular piece out of hundreds, maybe thousands, of twigs, which he painstakingly affixed to yards of fabric. And it’s not so much a suit of twigs as something you don for a pagan celebration in Norway. It does produce a nice sound, but it’s primarily a visual feast. So is every one of his Soundsuits, which span a dizzying array of styles, from Broadway costume, couture, and ritual garb to Saturday-morning cartoons, with a light dusting of LSD over everything. The materials, too, are fascinating: Everything is scavenged, found, repurposed from culture and nature both, from beads and bottle caps to leaves and hair. It’s all over the top, but also impeccably finished.

The “Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth” traveling exhibit marks the largest collection of his works to date, with more than 50 towering creations strewn about the gallery space like a mad fashion house, with videos of the suits doing what they were meant to do: produce sound, which results from the materials rubbing together when their hosts dance.

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: July 30. Continues through Nov. 29, 2009


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