Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition

COMPLETED: Eight impressive installations with more than 300 objects create a journey into the creative and complex world of musician, storyteller and cultural icon Nick Cave.

Drawing with motif by Nick Cave for the exhibition Stranger Than Kindness
Ben Smith

"An exceptional exhibition" - Gaffa

"Like being at home with Nick Cave" - Jyllands-Posten

"A moving visualisation of inspiration and love" - Information

"A gigantic and impressive collection which allows us access to the spaces of Nick Cave's life and growth (...)" - Magasinet Kunst

"Lets us into the mind of an artist and impresses (...)" - Politiken

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" invited 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 opened up the innermost parts of Cave’s creative universe and offered a story of its own.

Stranger Than Kindness

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"Stranger Than Kindness" told the story of Cave's childhood in the 1960s Wangaratta, Australia, the chaotic years with his first bands, The Boys Next Door and The Birthday Party, and about his move to Berlin and later on London. Placed in the center was the constantly renewing collaboration in Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, from the early days of the band during Cave's most intense period in Berlin to their latest release Ghosteen (2019), by many believed to be their best album ever. The exhibition revealed how Nick Cave's life, music, personal archives, and fiction are constantly woven together, enlighten and inspire each other.

Interiør fra The Nick Cave Exhibition
Euchrid's Crib: Nick Cave's room in Yorkstraße, West-Berlin, 1985, recreated for the exhibition.

Anders Sune Berg

In collaboration with Cave

"Stranger Than Kindness" was developed in close collaboration with Nick Cave with the intention to create a number of three-dimensional installations which allowed the audience full access to the artist's mind and creative process. It was a sensuous physical story, where the space and design of the exhibition became an extension of the many stories in Cave's life and works.

 "Stranger Than Kindness" balanced between the voices of the curators and the voice of the artist. Cave's close collaboration with the curators had resulted in a unique interpretation of the so-called biographical exhibition, which offered the opportunity to experience Nick Cave's material, objects, life and stories in a new way. It was a fusion of biography, autobiography and fiction all combined in a spacial story - an invitation to explore the creative mythical universe of an artist.

Nick Cave 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 be a part of this unique and unorthodox exhibition—a shattered history we called Stranger Than Kindness.” 

Along with his musical collaborator for many years, Warren Ellis, Cave had also composed and recorded a 800 m2 soundscape for the exhibition which both supported and contrasted the physical exhibition across the eight rooms of the exhibition.

The exhibition also contained two installations created in collaboration with the artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard who wrote and directed the Nick Cave movie "20.000 Days On Earth", which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2014.

Interiør fra The Nick Cave Exhibition
One of the installations of the exhibition was a reconstruction of Nick Cave's officeor, created in collaboration with the artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. The interior, objects and photos were from Nick Cave's personal office and included the entire library of the artist.

Anders Sune Berg

The exhibition was developed and designed by Christina Back, Det Kgl. Bibliotek and Janine Barrand, Arts Centre Melbourne in collaboration with Nick Cave for The Black Diamond, Copenhagen. The exhibition was produced in collaboration with Australian Music Vault, Arts Centre Melbourne.