Art Out: Nick Cave-If A Tree Falls
Images by Vasilios Smaragdas
Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to present If a Tree Falls, an exhibition of new work by Nick Cave, bookending the artist’s spring presentations in New York. If Weather or Not (Jack Shainman Gallery, May 17 – June 23, 2018) was the visual manifestation of states of mind, and The Let Go (Park Avenue Armory, June 7 – July 1, 2018) an expression of states of being, If a Tree Falls explores a crucial underlying component of these personal and collective states – the state of the American nation.
Cave creates a space of memorial through combining found historical objects with a contemporary dialogue on gun violence and death inflicted both by and within the black community. Large-scale installations include towers of welded magnifying glasses penetrating a sea of blackened hands, while wooden busts are encased within clusters of furniture indicative of colonial class structures. Cave magnifies the individuals behind what so frequently is deemed “black on black” crime, forcing viewers to reconcile disinterest in resolution with the myopic vantage point often taken towards Black America. Conceptually reminiscent of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison, Cave’s sculptures make clear that our society’s self-orientations serve a similar purpose of population control.
The figure remains central as Cave casts his own body in bronze, an extension of the performative work so critical to his oeuvre. A palpable pressure can be felt as weighted body parts press into stacks of delicate handkerchiefs, speaking to the dichotomy of anger and grief as a result of violence. Challenging “who is free” and “who is brave,” American eagles perch atop the heads of black men, some caught in the midst of wrenching screams, only to be muted by the bronze cast pillows on which they lie. A suite of oversized bronze gramophones seamlessly grow from raised fists, luring us in with their unsettling silence and questioning how much power the citizens of this nation actually possess.
Cave reminds us, however, that while there may be despair, there remains space for hope and renewal. From these dismembered body parts stem delicate metal flowers, affirming the potential of new growth. Peace ribbons gently dangle from a series of outstretched finger tips, while in Unarmed (2018), a memorial wreath encircles a weaponless hand, raised and ready to shoot. A chain of linked bronze arms extends from ceiling to ground; it is up to us to decide – is this a downward gravitational heave, or do the figures pull one another upwards and out of the pile from which they have emerged? Cave encourages a profound and compassionate analysis of violence and its effects as the path towards an ultimate metamorphosis.
Jack Shainman Gallery
November 1st - December 22nd
Hours: Tuseday - Saturday 10 AM - 6 PM
513 W 20th Street, New York, NY
524 W 24th Street, New York, NY
For more information, click here.