Cranbrook Art Museum and Nick Cave Announce “The Biggest, Baddest Performance of All Time!” Thanks to Support From Knight Arts Challenge Detroit

Nick Cave
Press Releases

Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Oct. 6, 2014 – Cranbrook Art Museum and artist Nick Cave will launch “The Biggest, Baddest Performance of All Time!” thanks to support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Knight Foundation announced today that Cranbrook Art Museum will receive a matching grant of $150,000 to mount the ambitious project, which will begin early next year and take place throughout 2015. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge funds ideas that engage and enrich Detroit through the arts.

Cranbrook’s vision for the project includes impromptu flash mob Soundsuit invasions throughout the city, dance labs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, a new performance by the artist filmed in Detroit, costuming workshops with children, and the culmination of it all, Figure This: Detroit, a massive processional and performance downtown.

This sweeping project will be undertaken in conjunction with Cave’s solo exhibition Here Hear, which will open at Cranbrook Art Museum on June 20, 2015 and run through October 11, 2015. The exhibition will be curated by Laura Mott, Cranbrook’s Curator of Contemporary Art and Design, who will also be coordinating the performances in Detroit.”

“This exhibition and the accompanying performances and events in Detroit will not only be Nick Cave’s ‘Biggest, Baddest Performance of All Time,’ but thanks to the Knight Foundation, whose team encouraged us to dream big, it will also be one of the most ambitious projects our Museum has ever undertaken. It not only celebrates one of Cranbrook Academy of Art’s most revered graduates, but also demonstrates Cranbrook’s commitment to the celebration and revitalization of Detroit,” says Gregory Wittkopp, Director of Cranbrook Art Museum and the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.

“Few things bring people together like the arts. We hope these events touch many Detroiters and inspire them to think creatively about their lives and city,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts for Knight Foundation.

Nick Cave is an African-American artist and dancer, famous for his embellished costumes, called Soundsuits, which he often stages in public spectacle. Though influenced by a vibrant palette of African art, armor, found objects, fashion and textile design, the Soundsuit are rooted in social critique. Cave first created a suit in the aftermath of the Rodney King beatings in 1991, envisioning an emotional shield that protects one’s race or gender while still expressing individuality.

“My connection to the city of Detroit began during graduate school when I attended Cranbrook Academy of Art in the late 1980s,” says Cave. “My extensive time spent in the city was also an important part of my education and growth as an artist. This ambitious performance and the educational components presented in this project are based on conversations with local artists, arts organizations, and non-profits, as well as my visceral experience of the incredible locations throughout different areas of Detroit.”

Cave continues, “My goal is to work with these groups and those who live in and love the city to reimagine Detroit as an always-surprising environment of creativity, excitement, and engagement. I began to dream big, because I believe it is important for Detroit to be dreaming ambitiously at this moment in regards to its own future.”

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

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Media Inquiries:
Julie Fracker
Director of Communications
Cranbrook Academy of Art and Art Museum