Beautifully unexpected merger of performance, dance, and sculpture. The Sticks suites were some of artist Nick Cave’s first performance sculptures. Built after the beating of Rodney King in 1992. The work came as a response for his search for a material that embodied a sense of being discarded, ignored and unvalued.
“I was thinking about, well, you know, I’m a black male. I don’t know what it’s like to feel discarded, dismissed, devalued,” he said. “And, you know, I was in the park and I was really sort of going through this emotional struggle with that incident and my own sort of identity. You know, the moment I leave my house I could be a victim of circumstances, you just never know.”
The work he created becomes a second skin, a physically and emotionally protective space, where the artist/dancer can embody and express themselves in a way they previously could not. The works become a tool for protest. The sound the suits made when the artist moved in them gave the works a voice.
“But I didn’t even think I could put it on the body,” he admitted. “And then once I stepped into it I thought about building this sort of second skin, you know, a suit of armor, something for protection purposes. Then I started thinking about protest. In order to be heard you’ve got to be aggressive, you’ve got to speak louder.”
The result is something bigger than life. A human voice is easy to overlook, but a presence and sound so unexpected is harder to ignore.