Artist Nick Cave challenges perceptions of apparel

The idea of being entirely anonymous while wearing these outlandish suits brings to question the role that clothes, and other forms of adornment and masks for that matter, play in our own lives. How much do we isolate, hide or invent ourselves by our own outer layers? The soundsuits, both monstrous by the strange forms they take, yet strangely beautiful in their immaculateness, cleverly illuminate the transformations we readily make even in daily life.

In the context of “Suit Up,” the phrase “crossing boundaries” almost trivializes what Cave manages to pull off. Having a background in dance, fine art and fashion, he operates with an acute awareness of movement, three-dimensional design and the mechanics of apparel. These sensitivities, plus an interest in ritual garments, appear to inform an open-ended art form that easily adapts to collaboration.

Richmond can enjoy more of the artist’s multidisciplinary talents this fall thanks to a residency at Virginia Commonwealth University. Cave will spend time with the school’s dance and fashion design departments to produce a public performance at Urban Light Works International at the Turning Basin Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

Cave’s presence in Richmond also coincides with 1708 Gallery’s “Wearable Art 6,” an annual runway show of juried student wearable-artwork and invited professional designs. Cave, along with a number of community art and design aficionados, will be present the night of the show to help decide the best in six different categories: Immaculate, Twisted, Mechanical, Awfully Pretty, Belly and Paean to the Lewis Collection. Hardly a department-store fashion show, the extravaganza is becoming an event like none other in Richmond. Cave will also help award three scholarships to student participants. S

“Nick Cave: Suit Up” is on display at Hand Workshop, 1812 W. Main St., through Nov. 2.

1708 Gallery’s Wearable Art takes place on Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. at La Difference. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased at the gallery at 319 W. Broad St.


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