Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Colorful and the Queer: A Look at Role of Queer Theory and Philosophy in Nick Cave's Soundsuits
by Mulhall, Em, M.A., University of South Dakota, 2018, 71; 10973653
Abstract (Summary)

Nick Cave is an artist, as well as the graduate professor of fashion design at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. Outside of teaching he uses artistic skills for socio-political commentary, pushing back against bigotry and stigma. Best known for his wearable sculptures, soundsuits. Cave’s works offer insights on issues pertinent to contemporary life such as racial relations, LGBT+ rights, and socio-economic disparity and its effects. They offer a perspective on hard subjects, like racially based violence, in a way that is at the same time a confrontational, whimsical, and thought provoking. Through extensive analysis of Caves works in relationship to queer theory, philosophy, and art history I will outline how Cave’s soundsuits function in terms of activism and ideology as it applies to contemporary culture.

The suits appear chaotic, jumbled, overwhelming and haphazard. However, their inspiration comes from a dark, volatile place of social and political unrest. To look at Cave’s suits and their performances is to take a look into contemporary social and political life as it is lived from a minority standpoint. Cave’s integration of found, ready-made, and other media with performance and stories of marginalization creates something which is much more than the sum of its many parts. He has created a place of secrecy and truth, given performers the ability to hide in plain sight, and allowed for interactions not based in subconscious (or conscious) prejudice in a society bound to labels.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Filotas, Zoli
Commitee: Lampert, Sarah, McKay-Semmler, Kelly
School: University of South Dakota
Department: Interdisciplinary Studies
School Location: United States -- South Dakota
Source: MAI 58/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Art history, Philosophy, Womens studies, LGBTQ studies
Keywords: Contemporary art, Gender studies, Performance, Phenomenology, Soundsuit
Publication Number: 10973653
ISBN: 9780438537842
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