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Jack Shainman Gallery: States of Being

Nick Cave, Untitled, (detail) 2018

Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce States of Being, an initiative dedicated to the gallery's social justice work and public engagement.

An evolving program of interventions, happenings, and community outreach, States of Being is an opportunity to collaborate with creators and voices beyond the gallery's immediate organization. Jack Shainman Gallery has always sought to bring a robust and diverse viewpoint to the art world, and it is vital we expand that scope to include the communities represented in the art we exhibit. It is critical to amplify these voices, not only through artistic expression, but through engagement with the world at large. With artist Nick Cave, States of Being will launch with the following projects:


As a public statement, Jack Shainman Gallery | The School in Kinderhook, NY will install the words, “Truth Be Told,” in monumental letters across the façade of the building. Conceived by Nick Cave and designed by Bob Faust, the statement is an antidote to slogans of deceit and propaganda that disguise truth and history to present racist and nativist ideology as patriotism, namely the pervasive Trump campaign line, “Make America Great Again.” “Truth Be Told” stands as an act of protest, acknowledging the power of words as symbols and organizing forces. The School will continue to present outdoor installations, such as future banners by Toyin Ojih Odutola.

Spurred by Cave and Faust, the gallery’s 20th Street window reads “8m46s,” in reference to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on the 25th of May, 2020. In respect and honor of Black lives killed by law enforcement, the installation will remain until election day as a solemn daily reminder of the fight against white supremacy and racial violence, and ultimately the search for justice and equality.


In an ongoing series of performances, artists have been invited to respond to select works by Cave as an improvised call and response between artist and object. For the inaugural act, Helga Davis, a powerful vocalist and performance artist, serenaded a multimedia piece with an incredibly raw and personal rendition of the American national anthem. Davis first confronted the artwork at the time of her performance, which was filmed in one take, unrehearsed, and is poignantly emotional and urgent. The direct connection between Davis and the piece becomes evident as she tenderly lays her head atop a severed wooden bust and an American flag made from shotgun shells. Forthcoming in the series are performances by Francesca Harper, an internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer, and actor Daniel Watts.


In a new series entitled, A·mal·gam s, Cave is creating super-sized bronze Soundsuit sculptures. The largescale works act as community beacons to celebrate race and form community, signifying the power of each of us as unique individuals defined by our differences. Incorporating vintage floral toile and ceramic bird figurines that envelope the body in a protective aura of history, memory, honesty, and rebirth, the monumental human-based forms are firmly rooted in the earth, growing from the soil.

Across the United States, public statues have been built to reinforce and perpetuate white supremacy as symbols of the Confederacy, slavery, and racism. In recent months, as monuments have been toppled by Black Lives Matter protestors, empty plinths are left as hopeful spaces, creating room to reckon with history and revise narratives. A·mal·gam s offer a new monument: one that envisions true liberation and celebration. Cave sees the sculptures as a manifestation of the divine spirit, steeped in the past, yet exiting the present moment in service of our collective futures.

States of Being projects, actions, and events will continue to be announced as the initiative develops in partnership with gallery artists and members of the community.

Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. For press inquiries please contact Kate Morais, Sutton, kate@suttoncomms.com, +1 212 202 3402. For other inquiries please contact the gallery at info@jackshainman.com.