A collection of large format photographs of domestic and international show caves, Austin Irving’s series explores anthropocentric tendencies of modern tourism.
“Are these additions acts of vandalism disrupting a delicate ecosystem for the sake of commercial profit?”
“The objective of this body of work is to highlight the tension that exists between the staggering natural beauty of caves and the renovations people make in order to transform these spaces into spectacular tourist attractions,” says Irving. The artist has visited ancient caves in Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Mexico, Virginia, Arizona, New York and Tennessee to observe the trend. Elaborate lighting, elevators, bathrooms and souvenir stands – all of these have been constructed to fulfill the physical needs of the sightseers, while meeting their collective expectation and image of a cave. In that way, the ancient geological wonders have become accessible and marketable to gain a commercial success. Irving asks through her work: “Are these additions acts of vandalism disrupting a delicate ecosystem for the sake of commercial profit? Or do these human interventions draw attention to the preservation of caves and make hard-to-access natural wonders readily available for appreciation?”
All images © Austin Irving