Recently I visited the Guggenheim museum for the first time with the program I’m interning for, Youth Corp at Park Avenue Armory. I’ve been holding off going to the renowned museum for a while because I haven’t had the time to. I fortunately was able to go with the people I know, including friends and “co-workers”.
Working at the Armory has been such a fun experience. It’s a diverse space where everyone can be themselves which is important within a work environment such as the Armory. We’ve been exploring and experiencing different types of immersive art, especially through performance for our capstone project. At the end of the semester we’ll create a piece of art that blurs the line between performer and audience, expands our definition of art, explores the concept of love, and includes performance.
Visiting the Guggenheim was for the purpose of viewing Nick Cave’s work. In 2018 he did an installation at Park Avenue Armory called “The Let Go,” where New Yorkers were able to join and release any pent up feeling using a number of his soundsuits. These soundsuits blended the ideas of fashion and sculpture together. Made to hide the body, they keep an individual’s race and other social constructs hidden.
For me, as an architecture student and aspiring architect, finally seeing the museum’s building in person was delightful. It’s not your typical museum. Founded in 1939 the museum has seen a lot of renovations throughout its lifetime. Though I was unable to experience walking down the ascending ramp because of work going on at the time, I still loved it. When I first walked in I looked up and saw the ceiling which has such an intricate design. The mini pond on the ground floor also caught my attention shortly after. Even the elevator was pretty. It wasn’t a box. It was more like a half circle that had red walls.
My favorite piece out of Cave’s collection would be the one about holding fear. Nick Cave dives deep into American history by creating a number of sculptures that show the experience/feelings of many Africans while they were being forcefully brought to America and placed into slavery. Showing how slaves had their freedom taken away from them, Nick Cave did an incredible job blending history and art together. When I first looked at the sculpture, I had no idea what it meant. It was the security guard that was standing beside it that told us the intentions behind it. Thanks to him I learned that slave owners would often cut the head off slaves to scare the other slaves into not escaping. Holding the head of the stick was a way for owners intimidated and instilled fear in slaves.
Who is Nick Cave?
Nick Cave is an American fabric sculptor who was born In Missouri. He’s also a performance artist who is famously known for his Soundsuits. He created these sculptures after the beating of Rodney King by police officers in 1991. These soundsuits were made to conceal a person’s identity so they wouldn’t be judged by their appearance. With the growth of police brutality over the past few years, these soundsuits act as a form of advocacy for social justice. The use of bright colors including the flowers is a symbolism for hope. Despite what’s happening in the world, there can still be room for hope.