Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nick Cave: Ever After

Review and photos of Nick Cave's solo show Ever After at Jack Shainman Gallery, by Alexa Strautmanis.

Upon first entering the gallery, one is met by a small army of bunny men, all standing in a row, at ease, gentlemen, sporting long, flowing white-blonde hair head to toe. Not totally uniform, but each in erect postures, which vary slightly from figure to figure, a reoccurring theme at the show. There is something menacing about them, especially the one in the middle, crouching the most, like they are about to jump out from their assigned spaces when your back is turned and attack you.

Warily walking past the six-foot-plus humanoid rabbits, you feel like a subject on the queen of hearts croquette field, staring up at the bulbous and bizarre silhouettes upon the heads of mostly normal button-sequined bodies, complete with attatched boots. One is taken aback by the meticulous detail paid to each button, sewn together so well it forms a scaly sheet. The white of the mother of pearl outer layer contrasts the opening of the head/neck holes of the garments, made of wicker and wire and the deepest reds, brightest blues, oranges and yellows. This literal body of work is slightly terrifying and I cannot imagine seeing a child’s reaction to these boogiemen.

Across the floor, there is another stand full of adorned mannequins, all joined by one film of reflective onyx colored buttons. At first glance this could be carved out of single stone, or millions of coins welded together, but any way you look at it the work is impressive. The pieces are more or less uniformed by the share of material, and none too different from each other in stance. All wearing the same outfit of a big flat disk for a head/face, some looking up, some down, creating an undulation in the room, like visible sound waves, or that freaky torso plasma in Donnie Darko.

Buttons galore, yes, but in the tiny, one-bench theatre beyond the platform of people, you can watch a video of furries. Costumes just as intricately designed and assembled, but out of colorful furs and fabrics. Though each dances and jumps alone or with others against a white background, you can almost imagine a huge fire with smoke signals and native drums present, booming over the techno music.

This show is both playful, and haunting at the same time. The whimsy of the pieces is equaled only by eeriness, a sort of Pan’s Labyrinth embodied by fashion mannequins. A must see for any fan of costume and/or rabbits.

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