Cave Art

With the Climate Change Summit wrapping-up in Copenhagen, and
it not looking so pretty for the future of this blue planet, I recently made
tentative “end of the world” plans with my husband (we probably have spent too
much time discussing Cormac McCarthy’s The Road). My husband (being at a physical disadvantage) assumed that he and
our asthmatic daughter would become sacrificial lambs in the fight against
barbarism, while my fit daughter and I would retreat to a well-stocked,
ammo-supplied remote cave dwelling (yet to be located). While a morbid
scenario, we are not alone in entertaining fantasies of retreating into the
hollow earth.

This past summer, Biorama2, a cave-based media art event
took place in Peak’s Cavern (also known as Devil’s Arse) in Derbyshire,
England, organized by University of Huddersfield’s Derek Hales and artist Andy
Gracie
. The event explored the biology of the underground through a series of
talks, discussions, workshops and expeditions into the cave system. According
to Arts Catalyst Director, Nicola Triscott, “Artist Andy Gracie gave the
rundown on some historical (and barking mad) theories about the structure of
the Earth, as well as Admiral Byrd’s speculated 1947 discovery of the entrance
at the north poles into the hollow earth. He also explained Jakob von Uexkull’s
theory of ‘umwelt ‘, an organism’s perception of its environment, and its
influence on the development of biosemiotics by Thomas Sebeok.”

Retreating to the underground reaches new levels of fantasy
over at Lawndale Art Center, Houston, where artist Kia Neill recently converted
the second floor gallery into an especially alluring “Grotto.” More Labyrinth
than Lascaux , Neill’s cave is a bejeweled habitat composed of blinking LED
lights and recycled CDs and DVDs that form artificial stalactites and
stalagmites. Neill’s grotto simultaneously resembles a dramatically lit tourist
cavern
and the inner guts of a mainframe computer. This alien-like landscape,
according to Neill, is inspired by caves and coral reefs, and is meant to be
both comforting and disorienting. If she adds a pool, I’ll move right in.

But even caves aren’t safe from the depressed economy.
Earlier this year, a family made national news when they faced foreclosure on
their cave dwelling
, and promptly put it up for sale on eBay.

also by Andrea Grover

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