Time and Place: The other Nick Cave


  • Matthew Smith
  • 3:17 p.m., April 26, 2015, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE

On Sunday, I rode my bike down the Atlanta Beltline's Eastside Trail to Ponce City Market, where a friend of mine was set to perform in Nick Cave's sold out show, "Up Right: Atlanta." Admittedly, I originally thought that Nick Cave, the Australian musician, was the one putting on this show, and I was hoping he'd be providing the music. It turned out to be Nick Cave, the performance artist from Chicago.

I had seen some promos with these weird colorful suits that reminded me of a cross between Jim Henson and tribal dancers. But I had no idea what to expect. After a small drum corps started the killer beat, the dancers came out, led by a sort of "drum major" figure down an an aisle towards the stage. The performers danced around PCM's food hall and with the electrified audience. The figures were shaking and thrashing wildly at times, and would slow down to a halt at others, all to the rhythms from the drums. What I loved about this performance was its interactive nature. Instead of watching it as usual, we were a part of it. Ironically, the main barrier keeping many in the audience from full participation and immersion was cameras.

In this kind of situation, I rarely look through the viewfinder, opting instead to "shoot from the hip," or the ground, or above my head. When one of the performers began gyrating against a lovely woman beside me, I lifted my camera above my head to get a more interesting angle and to keep the people around me out of the shot. I like that the viewer can see how much fun the woman is having by her smile. I also enjoy the juxtaposition of the bright-colored dancers with people who appear to be shoppers at a mall. The dancer's eyes were closed as if he or she were enraptured by the moment. Then, there are the camera phones, a definite sign of the times.

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