A Moment To Reflect

A Moment To Reflect

Nick Cave exhibit makes space for contemplation


Nick Cave has had a relationship with the Momentary in Bentonville since well before the arts venue even opened. The artist — who will be known to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art visitors for his “Soundsuit” sculptures — first visited the Momentary campus in late 2016 when he was part of Crystal Bridges’ Distinguished Lecture Series. The space was quite different back then, but Cave was already preparing for the largest exhibition of his career to fill the Momentary’s halls.

“It’s an amazing facility for amazing things to happen,” Cave says of the multi-disciplinary arts space that opened earlier this year. “It’s a convening space; it’s a gathering space; it’s a space to bring people from, really, the entire region to one place to experience the arts through dance, through music, through voice and also through the visual arts. So it’s a space that it’s going to really become this magnet that’s going to draw and bring talent to the region from around the entire world.”

“He was excited about making a very ambitious project and something that was meant to be very immersive and be something that you couldn’t not think about when you are experiencing it,” Lauren Haynes shares. “Nick is very much posing a question, and not necessarily telling people what to think or what they need to experience when they come out of it or are in ‘Until,’ but [he is] very much setting up this space” for conversation.
(Courtesy Photo/MASS MoCA)

“Nick Cave: Until” opens at the Momentary, which co-commissioned the exhibition, following stops at Tramway of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, Carriageworks in Sydney, Australia, and its debut at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts. The ambitious exhibition will occupy the entire footprint of the Momentary, where the sheer volume of material gathered and assembled is sure to astound: 16,000 wind spinners; millions of plastic pony beads; thousands of ceramic birds, fruits, and animals; 13 gilded pigs; more than 10 miles of crystals; 24 chandeliers; one crocodile; and 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys.

“I think the abundance of materials to build the work is evident in the commitment — in the commitment to [injustice], in the commitment to social change,” Cave explains. “So the material language is very much a part of the behavior and the sort of demand, and the commitment to stand behind something and to put your best foot forward.

“It’s an opportunity for me to, on one hand take us away, take us to a place of the unknown, and yet to create this fantastical, overwhelming sort of experience. But at the same time, hit us right in the gut and force us to look at what we’re doing to one another right now in the world.”

“It’s about, how can we pay attention to what’s going on?” adds Lauren Haynes, director of artist initiatives and curator, contemporary art, at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary.

“Things that may be easier for some people to push out of their minds, for many people, they’re very present and things that you can’t not think about. So by having bright colors, by having beautiful, intricate materials all present, you’re drawn in, but you also are looking and thinking and trying to hopefully spend time contemplating everything that’s going on and what the exhibition is really trying to do — which is make a space for difficult conversations that some people have never really had to have or think about, and others have on a regular basis.”

“Until” refers to the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” — or in this case, as the MASS MoCA points out, “guilty until proven innocent.” Cave’s legacy of creating work responding to police brutality committed against other human beings, particularly Black bodies, began with his very first “Soundsuit” in 1992 as a reaction to Rodney King’s beating by police the previous year. No “Soundsuits” will be found in “Until,” but the exhibition continues in the themes Cave has built a career exploring: race, gender and gun violence in America.

Nick Cave’s largest and most ambitious project yet, “Until,” opens at the Momentary in Bentonville Sept. 12. The immersive exhibition spans more than 24,000 square feet of gallery space.
(Courtesy Photo/MASS MoCA)

“This has always been our culture,” Haynes says. “For so many people, they have either been doing this work, trying to do this work, or living their lives, frankly, in fear and in terror. So I think this is just the work that we at the Momentary want to do: making space for artwork, performances, experiences that are really bringing to light what’s happening now and allowing for the artist’s voice to take center stage in these conversations.

“And also, allowing for a platform and a space for our community and our visitors to come and see and reflect, and not necessarily have to come away with answers, or come away with everyone thinking the same thing. Come away with having a different experience and hopefully seeing something in a different light or realizing something that you hadn’t realized before.”

“I think that we’re seeing that it is a collective issue; we are all coming together, unifying in support of change,” Cave says of continuing to push forward. “It’s what we want, it’s what we need, it’s what we want for the future of our children. So I think that we have to, again, stand up for what is right, stand up for humanity, and fight. That’s what we have to do in order to establish change and the vitality of saving this world.”

Artist Nick Cave
(Courtesy Photo/Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Photo by Ironside Photography)


‘Nick Cave: Until’

WHEN — Through Jan. 3

WHERE — The Momentary in Bentonville

COST — Free

INFO — 367-7500 themomentary.org

FYI — With the opening of ‘Nick Cave: Until,’ the Momentary returns to its regular operating hours of 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; closed Monday.

“In spite of all the injust, in spite of all the repression and the suppression, and the fatigue, I still have to find a way to be of service. I still have to find a way to be counterproductive in this ongoing crisis,” Nick Cave reflects. “I am fortunate to be able to put these emotions in this medium called art. It has been my savior.”
(Courtesy Photo/MASS MoCA)

“There’s so much going on, and I do hope that the exhibition is a space where people can maybe just come in and breathe,” offers Lauren Haynes, director of artist initiatives and curator, contemporary art, at Crystal Bridges Museum and the Momentary.
“Even during the installation, walking into the spaces as they were transforming, I felt like I was able to take a deep breath, in a way. And that’s also what I hope that this space offers: a moment for people to breathe deeply and maybe feel a little bit of a respite from everything that’s going on, but still feeling like work needs to be done.”
(Courtesy Photo/MASS MoCA)

Categories: Galleries