iPod from whole cloth

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Nick Cave’s Sound Suit #26

A fine example of the sly, double-message “Sound Suits” by Nick Cave is now on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in the contemporary sculpture gallery of the Hamilton Building. We first saw and admired Cave’s Sound Suits at the Studio Museum in Harlem’s ultra-hip “Frequency” exhibit (see post).

According to Kim Sajet, PAFA’s senior vice president of museum and public programs, the piece is under consideration for purchase. Goooo PAFA.

Created from jewel-encrusted found fabrics, the suit offers the glitz of Mardi Gras and the Mummers. But it’s a party for one, the hooded head–no eye holes–serving as an isolation chamber. Not exactly all dressed up with no place to go, the suit implies all dressed up in a private soundscape. It’s sort of an iPod embodiment, a child of the “my music” generation.

Any homespun tales the pieced fabric could imply are overwhelmed by the uptown jewels, sequins and pearls. The suits are metaphors for how all music–and all art–is pieced and sampled from what has gone before. And with DJs and others using actual recorded samples to plug into original soundscapes, it’s even more so at this moment in musical production.

The suit will remain on view into April, when it will travel to an exhibition at the Cultural Center in Chicago, which will run from April 22 – July 9.

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