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Bookending his previous two shows at Jack Shainman Gallery, Nick Cave’s exhibition of new works combines the ideas from “If Weather or Not” and “The Let Go,” which created visual manifestations of states of mind. “If a Tree Falls,” currently on view at both 513 West 20th Street and 524 West 24th Street through December 22, produces a poignant dialogue on the current circumstances of the American Nation.
Through a series of chilling sculptural works, Cave’s memorial environment forces his viewers to reconcile disinterest in resolution of what is so often deemed “black on black” crime. Bringing to the surface the unsettling realities of issues like gun violence and death inflicted both within and upon the black community, Cave calls on the aid of historical objects and his customary usage of the human figure—even casting his own body in bronze.
Challenges like “who is free?” and “who is brave?” are made, as American eagles perch on the heads of black men. Bronze gramophones grow up out of raised fists, making us question how much power the people of our nation actually possess. And in works like Unarmed (a memorial wreath encircling a weaponless hand, raised and ready to shoot), we are reminded of the devastating outcomes of careless violence.
In contrast, however, Cave reminds us that there is always room for hope and renewal. Delicate metal flowers emerge from the dismembered body parts, and peace ribbons dangle from outstretched hands, encouraging viewers to embark on a path of compassion and ultimate metamorphosis.