“Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition”

An exhibition about Nick Cave is set at the Black Diamond – Royal Danish Library – in Copenhagen. There are eight installations and a wide collection of objects from the australian artist´s private collection. You can visit it until the 13th February 2021.

by: Marta de Assis

Entrance of the Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition, at the Royal Danish Library. Photo: Marta de Assis

It’s hard to describe Nick Cave with just one word, but maybe “multifaceted” is the most suitable one. He is not only a musician, but also a songwriter, an author, a storyteller, a performer, a screenwriter and an actor.

The creative product resulting from over forty years of career is now available in this exhibition.

A window into the creative process

The Stranger Than Kindness exhibition contains eight installations, each one of them with a specific theme, for example: Childhood, Office, Obsessions or Gratitude. 

It follows Nick Cave’s development as an artist from his teenage years, from when he was studying Art in Melbourne, to the cultural icon he is known as today. Here we understand how and where Cave gets the inspiration from, so the exhibition offers us a look into his artistic and creative process.

Recreation of Nick Cave´s office. Photo: Marta de Assis
Recreation of Nick Cave´s office. Photo: Marta de Assis

There are photos, videos, handwritten lyrics, drawings, collages, shopping lists, books, handmade books, two pianos, and much more to be seen.

Literature play an important role in this exhibition. Nick Cave´s work is inspired by his fascination with all kinds of books. From classic literature such as Nabokov, Dostoevsky or Shakespeare, to biographies of artists who inspire him, like Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan. You will be able to spend a great deal of time checking each book on these shelves.

One of the shelves at the exhibition. All books are from Nick Cave’s private collection.
Photo: Marta de Assis

Recently, a fan asked him in The Red Hand Files, a forum in which fans can communicate with Cave, if he would consider compiling a list of his 40 favourite books. Cave answered: “Normally, to answer this question. I would simply go to my bookshelves and choose forty books. However, my bookshelves are completely empty. The 5000+ books I have accumulated over the years have been shipped to the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen. They are now part of the completely mind-blowing, heart-stopping Stranger Than Kindness exhibition”.

How did the corona situation affect the exhibition? 

The Stranger Than Kindness exhibition was due to open in March. However, because of coronavirus, it was postponed and opened this summer. “The Covid-19 situation has affected the exhibition in many ways – amongst other things we had to postpone the opening date and we have a reduced number of visitors at once. We’ve also seen a substantial reduction in international ticket sales: When we originally announced the exhibition last year, we had a lot of interest from German and Swedish fans amongst others, but the travel restrictions have unfortunately made visits from abroad quite difficult”, states Uffe Paulsen, the Communication Coordinator at the Black Diamond.

So far, approximately 10.000 people have visited the exhibition.

This exhibition was specially made for Nick Cave fans, but if you don’t know who he is, or have never listened to any of his songs, with the exhibition you will be able to understand his role in the rock music and why he is considered such a legend.

Sponsored by Gucci and Beckett-Fonden, Stranger Than Kindness was developed and designed by Christina Back, the Royal Danish Library and Janine Barrand of Arts Centre Melbourne in collaboration with Nick Cave for The Black Diamond, Copenhagen. It was curated and produced by the Royal Danish Library in collaboration with the Australian Music Vault at Arts Centre Melbourne.

This story is written for Nick Cave fans and music lovers