This Friday, Carriageworks will officially unveil its most ambitious project to date. 

UNTIL by acclaimed American artist Nick Cave is Carriageworks’ most substantial presentation of work by a solo artist, and Nick Cave’s largest exhibition to date. And it doesn’t disappoint. 

Nick-Cave-UNTIL-Carriageworks-Image-Zan-Wimberley-2018-8.jpgKinetic Spinner Forest. Photography by Zan Wimberley

Upon walking into the exhibition, I was immediately struck by the thousands (16,000 to be exact) of shimmering, spinning mobiles hanging from the ceiling. The effect is mesmerising and ethereal. It wasn’t until we listened to Nick Cave speak about the artwork, called the Kinetic Spinner Forest, that we realised that what looked so magical was at the same time pervaded by darkness; upon closer inspection you can see that the mobiles actually represent tears, bullets and guns. 

Kinetic Spinner Forest. Photography by Stephanie Stefanovic

As a whole, the exhibition deals with themes of race relations, gender politics and gun violence in America, and the resonance of these issues in communities around the world. A play on the phrase, ‘innocent until proven guilty’, or in this case, ‘guilty until proven innocent’, UNTIL began with the question, “Is there racism in heaven?” 

This really resonated with me as I went through the exhibition. Much of Cave’s work, particularly the Kinetic Spinner Forest and Crystal Cloudscape, appears heavenly at first glance but upon closer inspection the duality of the work is clear. 

Crystal Cloudscape. Photography by Zan Wimberley

Nick Cave Until CarriageworksCrystal Cloudscape. Photography by Stephanie Stefanovic

Crystal Cloudscape is the centrepiece of the exhibition. Highly elaborate and extravagant, the piece consists of a ‘cloud’ of crystal chandeliers, topped by a bricolage of uncanny found objects that reference an American vernacular both past and present. Visitors can get a closer look at the quirky assortment of items by climbing up one of the four ladders connected to the piece. Personally, I tried this and it was somewhat terrifying but well worth it. If you are afraid of heights, I would recommend taking the nearby lift to the second floor viewing platform where you can also see the top of the cloud, albeit in less detail. 

Crystal Cloudscape. Photography by Zan Wimberley

Another of Cave’s major works is Hy-Dyve, an immersive 14-channel video installation and exploration into the states of anxiety and agitation fuelled by the pervasive notions of surveillance and racial profiling. The floor component of the work is site-specific, using footage of waves crashing against the rocks filmed by a drone at Little Bay in Sydney. The feeling of the crashing waves is remarkably realistic, and makes you feel like you've stepped into another world, rather than just another room in an art gallery. 

Another piece to note is Beaded Cliff Wall, an installation redesigned and reconceived for Carriageworks, which references the juxtaposition between graffiti and nature, and the ways in which communities come together to fight for power. This work represents a remarkable feat of endurance on the artists’ part, taking Cave, 12 assistants, 18 months and millions of plastic hair pony beads to construct. 

Beaded Cliff Wall. Photography by Zan Wimberley

Nick Cave Until Carriageworks
Beaded Cliff Wall. Photography by Stephanie Stefanovic

Flow/Blow, a fan-propelled wall of shimmering party streamers, acts as a cleansing breath for the exhibition. Before leaving the exhibition I would definitely recommend taking a pause at Flow/Blow – not only does it exude calming ocean sounds and serve as a good closing piece for UNTIL but on a practical level it also offers some much-needed relief from the Australian heat! 

Nick Cave: UNTIL will be displayed at Carriageworks from 23 November 2018 to 3 March 2019. The exhibition is free to the public, and will also be running a range of other activities and performances. Visit the Carriageworks website for more details.