Hito SteyerlAnimal Spirits, 2022, exhibition view, Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2023.
© Hito Steyerl / Bild-Kunst, Bonn / CARCC, Ottawa (2024)
Photo: Andrea Rossetti, courtesy of
the artist ; Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York & Esther Schipper, Berlin, Paris & Seoul

Destination in the Cave Replica Genre

Madelene Veber
Our fascination with parietal art (also known as cave art), as with most prehistoric artifacts, often lies in the mystery of its origins, and the fact, astonishingly, of its enduring presence; it appears to us in images that speak through time. Georges Bataille, reflecting on his encounter with the images adorning the walls of the Lascaux caves, doubts that the mind could possibly imagine anything more distant than a “sight that has been waiting for us for a million years.”1 1 - Georges Bataille, The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture (New York: Zone Books, 2005), 82.

This auratic allure is obscured, however, by the uncanny conditions in which we now encounter these images: as most of the original sites are closed to the public in order to preserve them, we find exceptionally crafted replicas constructed in their place. Do these images — contemporary in design, prehistoric in reference — still carry through time? And if they do, to whom do they speak?

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This article also appears in the issue 111 - Tourism

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