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Nick Cave:
Spinner Forest

Remai Modern’s atrium has undergone a huge transformation with a large-scale work by Chicago-based artist Nick Cave. The work, titled Spinner Forest, is made up of strands of thousands of wind spinners that cascade from the ceiling and envelop the staircase from Level 1 to Level 2.

Event/Exhibition meta autogenerated block.

Where

Remai Modern Atrium

Spinner Forest is a striking work when seen from afar, creating a meditative and mesmerizing constellation of shapes, colour and movement. But it reveals more the closer you get. Within each spinning mobile are shapes that comment on gun violence, specifically in Cave’s home city. Alongside the concentric shapes most commonly seen in these popular lawn decorations, the spinners also contain the outlines of guns, bullets and teardrops.

Spinner Forest has been generously gifted to the museum by the Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation and helps to mark our five-year anniversary.

Due to the to the scale and complexity of the work, installation took place over multiple weeks beginning in October 2022. This process allowed visitors the unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how major installations come together thanks to the skill and hard work of Remai Modern’s team. This major job also included deinstalling the work Four Times Sol LeWitt Upside Down — Version Point to Point by Haegue Yang, which had been on view in the space since the museum opened in 2017. The work remains part of Remai Modern’s collection.

Installation view, Nick Cave: Forothermore, MCA Chicago, 2022. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Artist

Nick Cave (b. 1959, Fulton, MO; lives and works in Chicago, IL) is an artist, educator and foremost a messenger, working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. Cave is well known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body, initially created in direct response to the police beating of Rodney King in 1991. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment. They serve as a visual embodiment of social justice that represent both brutality and empowerment. 

Throughout his practice, Cave has created spaces of memorial through combining found historical objects with contemporary dialogues on gun violence and death, underscoring the anxiety of severe trauma brought on by catastrophic loss. The figure remains central as Cave casts his own body in bronze, an extension of the performative work so critical to his oeuvre. Cave reminds us, however, that while there may be despair, there remains space for hope and renewal. From dismembered body parts stem delicate metal flowers, affirming the potential of new growth. Cave encourages a profound and compassionate analysis of violence and its effects as the path towards an ultimate metamorphosis. While Cave’s works are rooted in our current societal moment, when progress on issues of global warming, racism and gun violence (both at the hands of citizens and law enforcement) seem maddeningly stalled, he asks how we may reposition ourselves to recognize the issues, come together on a global scale, instigate change, and ultimately, heal.