The prehistoric Bradshaw paintings in North Western Australia function as a kind of mental model for the exhibition Allegory of the Cave Painting at Extra City Kunsthal in Antwerp.
The work with dating the Bradshaw paintings have been going on for quite some time, and for reasons unknown until quite recently, the scientists have not been able to date them. In 2010, a team led by Jack Pettigrew of Queensland University found that red bacteria and black fungi had colonized the paintings. The bacteria and fungi – serving as a kind of ‘living pigments’ – cause a constantly reproducing of the Bradshaw paintings.
The exhibition Allegory of the Cave Painting assembles artworks and theoretical propositions in a polyphonic response to these ‘living pigments’. According to the curator, as stated in the press release, “the Bradshaws challenge a central archaeological metaphor: the inaugural moment of symbolic activity, an awakening where we begin and something that eludes us, that is fundamentally unfamiliar, ends. […] They perturb the ways in which modernity frames prehistory as allegorical interlocutor, so that it can establish an uninterrupted descent from it. This rhetorical edifice and constructed inevitability obscures a continuum of zigzagging histories, forgotten technologies and unintended outcomes – a mirror effect between ‘the mind in the cave’ and ‘the cave in the mind’.”
Allegory of the Cave Painting is divided in two parts, one showing at Extra City Kunsthal and the other, titled Allegory of the Cave Painting – The Other Way Around, showing at the Braem Pavilion, Middelheim Museum. The exhibition at Extra City reflects on methods of making and thinking about pictures, through engaging the Bradshaw paintings as an organism that extends across plural temporalities and scales.
Participating artists at Extra City Kunsthal:
Nina Beier, Jérôme Blumberg, Constantin Brâncuşi, Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan, Pavel Büchler, Florian Dombois, Harun Farocki, Geert Goiris, Ilana Halperin, Gary Hill, William Hogarth, Toril Johannessen, Sven Johne, Adrià Julià, Susanne Kriemann, Alon Levin, Frans Masereel, Fabio Mauri, Vincent Meessen, Jacqueline Mesmaeker, Gustav Metzger, Ciprian Mureşan, Rosalind Nashashibi, Tom Nicholson, Navid Nuur, Miklós Onucsán, Susan Schuppli, Paul Sietsema, Jonas Staal, Bernard Voïta, Phillip Warnell, Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll
Curator: Mihnea Mircan
20.09 – 07.12.2014
at Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerp