Art Notes: Nick Cave's horses promote dreaming as they dance in NYC terminal

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Pittsburghers loved the Nick Cave exhibition at Society for Contemporary Craft in 2008, when a dozen of his fantastical "Soundsuits" seemed poised to shimmy across the gallery floor on their own. Another installation of his work will be in New York City's Grand Central Terminal Monday through March 31 under the sponsorship of Creative Time and MTA Arts for Transit.

While the bejeweled and beaded costumes at the society were designed for human figures, "HEARD• NY" comprises 30 enigmatic horses that, like Mr. Cave's other work, cross lines of ritual and fantasy, contemporary expression and African traditional dance, ancestral presence and drag queen sauce.

The life-sized horses will be displayed in the terminal's Vanderbilt Hall throughout this month, but for the full effect drop by daily at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. to witness a "Crossing."

Sixty dancers (two per "Soundsuit") from The Ailey School, the school of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will animate the horses with choreographed movements Mr. Cave created with Chicago-based choreographer William Gill. The horses may remain together, as "a herd," or break into groups to wander the main concourse and throughout Grand Central.

The "HEARD• NY" Soundsuits are made of raffia and wear face masks embellished with patterns from India, Tibet, Morocco and elsewhere to "create a herd that embraces a variety of racial and cultural identities," according to the project's press release.

The project counts on the element of surprise introduced as the horses weave among the more than 750,000 people who visit the terminal daily.

"We used to be dreamers, thinking 'What would I like to be?' " Mr. Cave says. "But under the stresses of contemporary life, we seem to have lost that capacity. With works like 'HEARD• NY,' I try to create a moment that brings us back to dreaming and fantasy, to a state of mind where we can think about alternative ways of being."

The exhibition and performances are free and public.

A "Conversation With Nick Cave" will be held at 6 p.m. March 29 in conjunction with "HEARD• NY" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The artist will discuss the role of masquerade, performance and dreaming in public with Nato Thompson, chief curator of Creative Time, and Alisa LaGamma, curator, metropolitan department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Free with museum admission. Seating is limited. Tickets and reservations are not required.

'Mean Girls' in Market Square

Exorcise your inner bully, or share an experience that caused you pain, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday in Market Square.

Jill Larson, curator of the exhibition "Mean Girls" at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust SPACE gallery, will be there with two 6-foot-tall painted wooden figures shaped like the universal form for woman. Women and girls are invited to "share an act of cruelty bestowed upon them by another female" on the Pink Female Figure. They may "share confessions and apologies for cruel behavior [they] directed toward another female" on the Red Female Figure.

Additional tall figures are at the gallery. Other, shorter figures are traveling to schools and other venues where children may readily participate. The Market Square figures will return to the gallery, where the exhibition continues through April 28.

The four Pittsburgh artists exhibiting in "Mean Girls" will give artist talks at 1 p.m. Saturday at SPACE gallery, 812 Liberty Ave., Downtown. They are Vanessa German, Jenn Gooch, Randie Snow and Sonja Sweterlitsch.

Upcoming events include "Mean Girls: A Reading," at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) March 30, organized by author Sherrie Flick. Women writers will read original works that explore girl bullying, including poems, essays and fiction. Readers include Yona Harvey, Elise Levine, Jennifer Banaan, Ellen Smith, Chauna Craig, Sarah Shotland, Sarah Leavens, Lori Jakiela and Lois Williams. The talks, and exhibition, are free and public.


Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: or 412-263-1925.


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