Nick Cave: Until
- Jessica Ramm
- 28 August 2019
US artist's ambitious installation confronts gun violence and racism
This curious culture clash of gun-violence and gaudy sentimentality is testament to the dedication and skill of Tramway's instal team. Thousands of spinning glittery-kitsch garden ornaments fill Gallery 2, rotated by hundreds of disco-ball motors bulk ordered from China. People walking through the door light up with child-like delight at the sensory spectacle followed by a moment of recognition as they notice glittering symbols such as guns, bullets and tear drops hovering within the installation. Next they become intent on working out how the magical effect of an invisible wind is achieved by mechanical means.
At the centre of the gallery is 'crystal cloudscape', a floating island made of re-purposed chandeliers. Yellow ladders extend up to the edge of this glitzy cushion, which viewers climb to access a jumbled dream-world-apart. Nick Cave is a collector of ceramic ornaments, imitation flowers, antique toys and of racist memorabilia, which he has spent the last decade gathering from vintage shops and yard sales. A cacophonous array of mantelpiece paraphernalia is frozen in morbid still life. Flowers bloom indefinitely, presided over by cast-iron figurines depicting a conventional racist caricature of an African American. Here, Cave has built these figurines their own Eden and furnished them with butterfly nets so they can frolic through his bountiful landscape. Visitors are invited to survey this strange land briefly before dismounting awkwardly, backwards down the ladders.
Back on the concrete floor below, this utopian vision of eclectic harmony evaporates and thousands of shiny beads and glittering ornaments press in to take its place.
Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 24 Nov.