Landscape / Nature | Nominee

Austin Irving

Los Angeles/USA



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 organisations 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 the 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 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?

The images included in this series were made with a Toyo Field camera on 4x5 colour negatives on location in Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Mexico, Virginia, Arizona, New York and Tennessee.