Arts Review – Nick Cave: Until

The exhibition Until is American artist Nick Cave’s third exhibition in Europe, following exhibitions in Venice in 2010 and Denmark in 2013. An artist famous for his ‘Soundsuits’ series, here at Tramway he has created an immersive and all-encompassing installation, one that contrasts a joyous aesthetic with a strong sense of the social and political that is at the heart of Cave’s practice. 

Upon entering the exhibition, the viewer is immersed in Cave’s vision. Hanging from the ceiling, hundreds of objects shimmer and move, a vast spectacle that surrounds the Tramway space. Through colour, rhythm, and movement Cave has created a sense of joy and celebration. Cave disrupts this revelry by placing symbols of violence (guns, teardrops, and targets) amongst these playful objects, a stark and important reminder of the interlinked issues of gun violence and racism that are rife in America. 

Running along the walls of the exhibition Cave has created large scale murals out of plastic beading. The word ‘POWER’ sits alongside images of rainbows, peace signs, and smiley faces. Beads extend down and run along the floor, adding to the sense of visitor immersion Cave has created.

In the exhibition’s centre Cave has created a ‘cloud’, accessible to visitors by four ladders. Underneath, ornate chandeliers of varying designs give out warm amber light and crystals have an ice like, translucent quality. Above, Cave has created a platform where amongst china statues of cats, owls, birds, and flowers stand lawn jockey figures painted with blackface. These disturbing and highly problematic racist figures, juxtaposed against the cute and kitsch objects that surround them, are an important reminder of the social and political that are key to Cave’s work. 

Nick Cave has created an immersive, visually exciting and multi layered installation, one that draws the viewer in with colour, rhythm, movement and spectacle. Once in, we are confronted with issues of race and violence, issues that have all the more weight through their juxtaposition with the joyous and celebratory. On the Tuesday afternoon I visited Tramway the exhibition was full of visitors, illustrating the shows’ popularity. It is a testament to the great and important work Cave has achieved here.

[Edward Palmer – he/him]

[Photo credit: Lisa McElroy]

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