Join us virtually for the US Book Launch of Warren Ellis’s memoir, Nina Simone’s Gum. The legendary musician and Nick Cave collaborator talks with Gabriel Florenz, Pioneer Works Founding Artistic Director, about his long, wild career as a Bad Seed and his multiple, varied personal projects. Signed books will be available for order.
About Nina Simone's Gum
The unexpected and inspiring story of a piece of chewing gum...
On July 1, 1999, Dr. Nina Simone gave a rare performance, fated to be one of her last in Britain. After the show, in a state of transcendent awe, Warren Ellis crept onto the stage and took Simone’s piece of chewed gum from the piano, wrapped it in her stage towel and placed it in a Tower Records bag.
The gum remained with Ellis for twenty years—a sacred totem, his creative muse—until 2019, when Nick Cave, his collaborator and great friend, asked him if he had anything he could contribute to Cave’s Stranger Than Kindness exhibition...
Together they agreed that the gum should be housed in a glass case, as though a holy relic. Fearing it would be damaged or lost, Ellis had it cast in silver and gold, sparking a chain of events that no one could have predicted, transporting him back to his childhood and his relationship to found objects.
Nina Simone’s Gum reveals how something seemingly insignificant and disposable can form beautiful connections between people. It is a story about the meaning we bestow on objects and experiences, and how these things can become imbued with spirituality. It is a celebration of the artistic process and the incomparable power of the art born from it—of friendship, understanding, and love.
About Warren Ellis
Warren Ellis is an Australian multi-instrumentalist and composer, most famous for his work as collaborator and bandmate of Nick Cave, in both the Bad Seeds and Grinderman. Both solo and alongside Cave, he is also a multi-award-winning film composer whose soundtracks include The Proposition, The Road, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Mustang, and most recently, This Train I Ride.
His own band Dirty Three have released eight studio albums since 1994 and he is an in-demand producer and writer, working with artists including Marianne Faithful, Jupiter and Okwess and Tinariwen.
About Gabriel Florenz
Gabriel Florenz was born in Berkeley, California and raised in central Mexico. He was trained as an artist focused on sculptural techniques including glass-working and ceramics; later, he shared and managed glass studios in Oakland, California while studying art. In 2009, he moved to New York City and became Director of Operations for the studio of artist Dustin Yellin. Subsequently, in 2011 he led the renovation and redesign of the century-old building that once housed Pioneer Iron Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In 2012, he helped found Pioneer Works leading its development into a nonprofit and the formation of its various departments. Florenz is currently the Founding Artistic Director and Lead Curator of Pioneer Works.