Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition

Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition

opens 8 June 2020

Nick Cave’s body of work encompasses a wide range of media and modes of expression, with narrative forms at the heart. Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition invites visitors to follow Cave’s development as an artist – and to gain insight into the overarching themes of his work, his working methods and the many sources of inspiration underpinning it all. Behind each work is an equally fascinating artistic process not originally intended for public view; the exhibition opens up the innermost parts of Cave’s creative universe and offers a story of its own.

Stranger Than Kindness covers the journey from Cave’s childhood in 1960s Wangaratta, Australia, through the chaotic years with his first bands, The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party, and his relocation to Berlin and then London. Central is the ever-evolving collaboration in Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, from the band’s inception in Cave’s most obsessive period in Berlin up to their latest release Ghosteen (2019), widely acknowledged as their best work ever. The exhibition reveals how Nick Cave’s life, music, archives and fictions continue to intertwine, inform and inspire each other.

In collaboration with Nick Cave
Stranger Than Kindness has been designed in collaboration with Nick Cave to create a series of immersive installations which allow visitors to inhabit the thoughts and creative process of an artist. It is a tangible, physical narrative, in which the space and exhibition design become an extension of the many stories contained within Cave’s life and writings.

Stranger Than Kindness vibrates between the voice of the curators and the voice of the artist. Cave working closely with the curators has resulted in an original take on the biographical exhibition, allowing a new experience with the material, the objects, and the life and stories of Nick Cave. A merge of biography, autobiography and fiction placed in a spatial narrative – and an invitation into an artist’s mythical universe of creation.

Nick Cave explains about the exhibition and the collaboration:
“When the Royal Danish Library contacted me with the idea of a “Nick Cave Exhibition” I was reluctant to get involved. I am not nostalgic by nature and I had no time for a trip down Memory Lane. But the team at the library were clearly serious people with a wonderful infectious energy and they drew me in! We created an exhibition that is unlike anything that has gone before, its feet rooted in the past but that reaches into the uncertain future. In the end we were able to put together an exhibition of extraordinary detail that commented on the fragile and vulnerable nature of identity. I am so proud to a part of this unique and unorthodox exhibition—a shattered history we called Stranger Than Kindness.”

Together with his long-time musical collaborator, Warren Ellis, Cave has also composed and recorded an 800 square meter (approx 8,600 square feet) soundscape that both supports and contrasts the physical narrative across the eight rooms of the exhibition.

The exhibition also contains two installations created with artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, who wrote and directed the 2014 Bafta-nominated Nick Cave feature film 20,000 Days on Earth.

Nick Cave_Stranger Than Kindness_combo04Notebook and drawing in blood by Nick Cave, 1983: ‘Mutiny! Birthday Party’.

Nick Cave’s archives are bountiful and diverse: drafts, original artwork, handwritten lyrics, diaries, photographs, videos, found objects and much more. Rich, obsessive and unorthodox they are a vibrant, inexhaustible source of exploration of his work. This is the wellspring of Nick Cave’s lyrics and their teeming world of imaginative imagery and vivid characters. Delving deep into this archive is not just an act of retrospection, it is also a journey through Cave’s history and creative processes.

General information
The exhibition was developed and designed by Christina Back, Royal Danish Library and Janine Barrand, Arts Centre Melbourne in collaboration with Nick Cave for The Black Diamond, Copenhagen. It was curated and produced by Royal Danish Library in collaboration with the Australian Music Vault at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition

The Black Diamond – Royal Danish Library
Søren Kierkegaards Plads, Copenhagen, Denmark

8 June 2020 – 13 February 2021
Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday closed

Please note:
Reduced capacity – to ensure the comfort and safety of our guests, entrance to the exhibition is based on pre-booked timeslots and the hourly capacity has been reduced well below the maximum allowed for the space.

Extended time – the original exhibition period has been extended several months to allow as many guest outside of Denmark to be able to visit.

Ticket information
Tickets: 12 € (concessions available)

Nick Cave
Nick Cave has been performing music for more than forty years and is best known as the songwriter and lead singer of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, whose latest album Ghosteen was widely received as their best work ever. Cave’s body of work also covers a wider range of media and modes of expression including film score composition and writing of novels. His recent Conversation events and Red Hand Files website have seen Cave exploring deeper and more direct relationships with his fans.

Exhibition book
The exhibition is accompanied by the book Stranger Than Kindness, published by Canongate on 23 March 2020. The book has been developed and curated by Nick Cave in collaboration with Christina Back and features full colour reproductions of original artwork, handwritten lyrics, photographs and collected personal artefacts along with commentary and meditations from Nick Cave, Janine Barrand and a substantial essay by the acclaimed American writer Darcey Steinke. The book has been included in the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Royal Danish Library
The Royal Danish Library holds one of Northern Europe’s largest collections of rare books, manuscripts and artists’ archives. The Black Diamond serves as a cultural venue for the Library offering exhibitions, talks, performances and concerts. The exhibition team, headed by Christina Back, has worked with international artists for more than a decade to explore spatial storytelling and multi-sensory exhibition design. 

Australian Music Vault at Arts Centre Melbourne
Arts Centre Melbourne is the proud custodian of the Australian Performing Arts Collection, Australia’s largest and most important collection dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and interpretation of Australia’s circus, dance, music, opera and theatre heritage. In 2006 Nick Cave donated his archive to the Collection entrusting us to preserve his legacy. Cave’s archive forms the base of this exhibition. The Australian Music Vault is developed by Arts Centre Melbourne to celebrate the Australian contemporary music story. 

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