Lavender Fields Dispatch: Official Review – “God Polaroid”

Go Ahead, Call Me a Fan Boy, author image

Sometimes I see a pale bird

Wheeling in the sky

But that is just a feeling

A feeling when you die…

Nick Cave, “Lavender Fields”, from the album Carnage, 2021.

The Cave Thing polaroid arrived yesterday, coinciding almost exactly with my posting of the last post. I plucked it from the porch (thank heaven, pun intended, I was home to do so otherwise it would’ve spent the 80F afternoon in the blazing U.V. getting roasted out there) and the whole experience of it, from the unboxing, so-called, to the curious object itself – a Polaroid of all things – and the curiously intimate mythology it evokes, well, it works.

I frankly half expected to be disappointed. I mean, anticipation oftentimes spoils things with expectation. And some things inevitably seem silly to own. But I’m wholeheartedly glad to own this. Perhaps it’s something to do with the little big thing phenomenon – the manner in which something of such close-to-the-heart (again, intimate) and modest proportions renders an image of such unlimited, as it were, dimensions. That, and there is something that Nick obviously gets about the nature of both the medium – the object, the whole package – and of course the subject matter that makes it so impossibly right-sized. It’s personal, but curiously so. All the little affectations (I had initially mistyped “affections” and that fits, too) contribute to itself. That there are iterations, sold out by the way, also works its magic. Further narrating the mythology and the psychology within while leaving room for the rest of us. Nice work.


It attracted me or more accurately affected me, by way of its conflicting indications, let’s say. By way of the never quite collateral question it proffers – what is God? – the unashamed answer (in the form of a hermeneutic) that it suggests, and the clash between its hyper-self-awareness (all the glitchy, ticky, tacky, tasty stuff about it). I could have perhaps videoed an unboxing, hoping to communicate the mindfulness of the package, the Oriental awareness, one might say, of the papers, textures, surfaces, inks, colors – the narrative of the packaging as part of the experience, but it’s one of those things that somehow has nothing to do with that, either. Original art-craft ought to always perform this rewardingly. Get one for yourself and see what happens. Oops, sorry, sold out!

Unselfconscious art-craft? Hardly. Borderline kitschy and derivative? Maybe. Too obvious? Absolutely. It all could just as easily have ended up being crummy and trite. Even amateurish. To say nothing of a waste of money. Are you making fun of me, Nick? Are you making fun of religion? Of mysticism? Of spirituality? Of mythology? Of commerce? Of all of us? Are you kidding, a Polaroid entitled “God”? This guy’s work tends to make you wonder. Humor, yes, it has to be there. But is he also an asshole?

Modern art, you know, too much of it seems intended to make you do something – Joyce called it pornographic in that sense. Piss you off. Affront you. Baffle you. Make you want to buy it. Or burn it. Or something. I don’t know. Nick Cave. I’m not an archivist of the man. I haven’t collected Cave stuff with anything like intention. I haven’t watched, listened to, seen or read all of his work by any means. I just really dig a lot of the stuff he does. All these things poked me in the ribs, looking at the iteration of this polaroid. Even as a thumbnail image on the computer screen.

God. Is it sublime? No. Better than that. Evocative. In the manner of evocation. Utterly hand crafted and weirdly manufactured, too. Sea and sky and spiritual light? C’mon, I recall thinking. No, really, it somehow says. Look closer.

It helps, I think, to appreciate something of Nick’s method of playing with all this imagery; namely, the imagery of art house expectation, intellectual criticism and learned connoisseurship that gets perpetually emasculated by unabashed, earnest earnestness. And honesty. That, and his advancing of mythology by way of humanizing its most regal and iconic images. His fearlessness with it all that speaks, somehow, to me at least, of truth. And a way home. That’s all we’re ever really seeking, after all, isn’t it? The way home?

Anyway, nothing and nobody is safe around the Nickster. To his credit. Then again, it seems to me, everyone is.