"Up Right: Atlanta" makes art of Ponce City Market

Artist Nick Cave, choreographer T. Lang, and Flux Projects collaborate in the Old Fourth Ward space

In collaboration with choreographer T. Lang and Flux Projects, artist Nick Cave is bringing a two-part performance with dancers, actors, and musicians to the not-yet-opened central food hall at Ponce City Market.

Cave is the professor and chairman of the fashion department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, best known for his multidisciplinary work that often includes sculpture, video, and performance — sometimes all at once. His public collections live at several major museums across the country, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He'll incorporate his famous SoundSuits, sculptural forms that are based on the scale of his body.

Cave spoke to Creative Loafing about working with Flux Projects at Ponce City Market, giving back through his performance, and Atlanta's own urban renewal.

How was it working with this concept at such a new space as Ponce City Market?

The piece is about the "Initiates," self-preservation, and being reborn into a new world, as well as looking at how we can come in and provide an admission to a better existence. We've been to Atlanta about four times, scouting spaces, and we decided on Ponce City Market. We were really interested in that location. We have yet to see the set for the performance piece, but that's been designed. We are interested in what that feels like, looks like, and how it all comes together.

How about the SoundSuit-costumes worn by the [performers]? How did that come together?

When [we] are working with a body of sculptures, we have to take into account a different way of building the suits. We have to take into account the wear and tear and what kind of materials can handle the level of stress. And weight comes into play.

The costumes are still in line with my past work. In here, we'll be working with a lot of found objects, synthetic hair, raffia, and that's about it. I'm collaborating with T. Lang, who works at the Spelman College dance department, and she will be choreographing the opening piece for the performance. The second part is a new piece that I've developed.

[The performance includes] seven individuals from the community [whom] we will be undressing and redressing. They will be literally building this sort of apparatus/attire sort of sculpture, so as the viewer you will be seeing this process as it occurs. Then the individuals will rise and walk into the world. It's preparing the mind, body, and spirit to face the forces that get in the way of selfhood. It's really about this sort of rite of passage to a degree.

Tell me about collaborating with T. Lang and selecting the dancers.

We were in Atlanta and looking around to see who we wanted to collaborate with. We started scouting for dancers and musicians. We visited Spelman since we wanted to connect with an academic sort of setting. Up Right is about what has prepared me for who I am today, individuals who have come into my life, brought attention to my abilities and ... conditioned me and handed me to the next person. I've always been in training, and this is my way of giving back to those individuals who need a jump-start and make them feel like they matter.

This concept seems to relate back to Atlanta being reborn, both in the last few years and since the burning [of the] city, right?

I think so. I think it's about a renewal, and in order for Atlanta to rebuild itself the people need to be renewed. It's about regurgitation, looking at the past yet looking at what's present, and how do we look at the future.