Nick Cave: The thing that's amazing is that, and really what the work is about, is that it hides gender, race, and class, so you're forced to be confronted with something that is unfamiliar. It can't be categorized. You know, we tend to live in a world where we want to-- we want to be able to find its placement and here, I think it is its own origin, it's its own entity, within itself, within its own world, but it's extraordinary to be inside, because what it does as the wearer, it allows you the independence to move and to express yourself freely.
Jo Reed: Now what inspired these?
Nick Cave: Well you know, the first suit was a twig suit. And it was in response to the Rodney King incident in '92. Prior to that, I was doing large paintings, and these constructions that started on the wall to the floor. But I'm grateful to have, you know, art as a means of expression, because the Rodney King incident affected me so strongly that I really was struggling with myself as a black male, and feeling that the moment that I step outside of the privacy of my home, I could be racially profiled. So it made me think about feeling discarded, dismissed, less than, devalued. And so what I wanted to do was to sort of respond to that feeling, and I happened to be in the park one day, and I was just thinking about my emotions and as I was reading more and more about the case, I looked down and there was a twig, and I thought, I knew that that's what I needed to make this object out of. Because it spoke to me on those multiple levels, something that was dismissed, discarded, irrelevant. And so I then made this sculpture, which was a pant and a jacket. I didn't even think I could put it on. I don't know what was going on in my head. I was just thinking of it as a sculptural form. And then once I put it on, I started to think about it functioning as a suit of armor, something to protect my spirit from the outside world. And then when I started to move in it, I started to think about the role of protest: in order to be heard, you've got to speak louder. So it just started unfolding more and more references and connections to the role of an object, the role of a form that it's unfamiliar, the uncomfortableness within that, the confrontation within that, and, you know, it was a bit scary. And so I thought about, you know, it's difficult, you know, when you're crossing the street, and you hear someone's car door locks going off, and you're just like, it's a little strange. But this is how I sort of was able to come to this form. And then from that point forward, I've always made a very conscious decision to always make the work out of discarded material.
In this excerpt from the podcast, Cave talks about what it's like to actually wear one of these fabulous creations. [3:39]