MODERN MINDS 

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Residency: Maison Daura, Saint Cirque Lapopie (2014)

Exhibition: Maison des Arts George Pompidou (Cajarc 2014)

            Le Parcours d'art contemporain en Vallee du Lot 

 

Interlocations:

Andre Breton's house - 1920(Saint Cirque Lapopie)

Pech Merle caves  - 24,000 ka. (France)

Blombos cave - 75,000 ka. (South Africa) 

 

The intention in this work is to layer up, interconnect and conflate three different geo/temporal zones of modern. 

 

 

At the Pech Merle caves with their iconic Ice Age art from 24,000 ka, popular emphasis has been on the representational images of animals they contain. Less attention is given to the “signs” yet these abstract images outnumber realistic depictions. It seems likely that for the original makers, realism and abstraction coexisted with equal value.

 

Finds made in 1991 at coastal caves in South Africa have pushed modern behavior much further back than the European caves. They include small pieces of ochre with abstract inscriptions dating to about 75,000 ka.

 

The anthropologist David Lewis-Williams puts forward that our neurology has been a constant since our early evolution. Whatever time period, Homo sapiens share the same spectrum of states of consciousness, which we interpret differently through culture. We know that more recent rock art in South Africa depicts hallucinations, experienced in trance, which shamans interpreted into socio / spiritual meaning. He proposes that the art of the European caves, made by the same neurological mind, are also likely to represent hallucinations in altered states, connected to shamanism.

 

The Modernist movement of Surrealism, rooted in the psychoanalytical theories of Freud, shifted interpretation from the spiritual realm to the individual subconscious. Freud’s method, based on the “talking cure” came out of his early use of cocaine, in which an altered state of consciousness allowed the uncensored flow of thought, creating a strong correlation between psychoanalysis and shamanism. 

 

The Surrealists, led by Andre Breton (who lived for some time in Saint Cirque Lapopie, close to the caves at Pech Merle)) developed many techniques of free association. This included the use of decalcomania, a type of monoprint. J.G. Ballard wrote “ they reveal eroded, rock-like forms that touch some deeply buried memory, perhaps at an early stage in the formation of the brain’s visual centre, before the wiring is fully in place.” Reading off these images stimulated a flow of consciousness. Breton also kept a collection of local rocks used for this purpose which remain at his house.

 

Recent experiments in neurology indicate geometric patterns hallucinated in altered states are projected images of the internal brain. They appear through an induced reversal of the optical process. Instead of seeing the outside world we are literally projecting the internal structure of our brains, a kind of natural brain scan. The recurrence of similar patterns appearing in rock art throughout time may literally be visions of the brain, interpreted through different cultures.