Born and raised in New York City, Austin Irving is an artist who graduated with a BFA from the Department of Photography and Imaging at TISCH School Of The Arts at New York University. Her Show Caves series recently debuted in Los Angeles at The Silverlake Art Company and at bG Gallery in Bergamot Station. The series was selected to be a part of MOCA’s Fresh Auction and to be a part of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Virginia in 2012. Irving currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Today we share her series Show Caves.
Show Caves is a collection of large format photographs that explores the anthropocentric tendencies of modern tourism seen in domestic and international show caves. Show caves are natural caves managed by government or commercial organizations that have been modified to accommodate tourism. 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.
These caverns have been curated to cater to both the physical needs of sightseers as well as to our collective expectation of the fantasy of a cave. Elaborate lighting, elevators, poured cement trails, even bathrooms and souvenir stands have been added so that ancient geological wonders can be accessible and marketable to a money- giving public. Are these additions acts of vandalism disrupting a delicate eco- system 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?
The images included in this series were made with a Toyo Field camera on 4×5 color negative on location in Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Mexico, Virginia, Arizona, New York and Tennessee.
Austin’s work has been included in group shows in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia and New Mexico. Her images have been featured in The International Herald Tribune, Architectural Digest, ArtSlant, D La Repubblica, Aliem Magazine, WeTransfer, Macy’s American Rag Magazine, The Collective Mag, Paper Magazine, Brides Magazine, and Women’s Wear Daily.
To view more of Austin’s work, please her website.