Austin Irving

2009 - Ongoing

Singapore; Vietnam; Malaysia; India; New Mexico, United States; Missouri, United States; Colorado, United States; New York, United States; Arizona, United States; Tennessee, United States; Virginia, United States

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 4x5 color negative.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • Dau Go Cave, Halong Bay, Vietnam, 2009

  • Meramec Caverns, Jesse James Hideout, Missouri, USA, 2019

  • Meramec Caverns, Disco Ball, Missouri, USA, 2019

  • Secret Caverns, Cave Pool, New York, USA, 2018

  • Carlsbad Caverns, Employee Entrance, New Mexico, USA, 2013

  • Meramec Caverns, Cave Pool, Missouri, USA, 2019

  • Carlsbad Caverns, Elevator Room, New Mexico, USA, 2010

  • Borra Caves, Overlook, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2017

  • Glenwood Caverns, Medic Box, Colorado, USA, 2020

  • Shenandoah Caverns, Rainbow Pool, Virginia, USA, 2010

  • Shenandoah Caverns, Underground Phone, Virginia, USA, 2010

  • Niagara Cave, Chapel Benches, Minnesota, USA, 2019

  • Colossal Cave, Display Case, Arizona, USA, 2013

  • Meramec Caverns, Air Lock, Missouri, USA, 2019

  • Howe Caverns Brick Path, New York, USA, 2014

  • Colossal Cave, Emergency Phone, Arizona, USA, 2013

  • Borra Caves, Light Source, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2017

  • Carlsbad Caverns, Tee Shirt Stand, New Mexico, USA, 2013.jpg