Cover image of the review
Mikala Dwyer & Paul Yore, Glasshouse/Stonehouse 2023: LA SALLE DES TAUREAUX, presented at Gertrude Glasshouse, 2024. Courtesy of the artists and representing galleries: 1301SW, Naarm Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Eora Sydney; STATION, Naarm Melbourne and Eora Sydney; and Hugo Mitchell Gallery, Tarndanya Adelaide. Photo: Christian Capurro

La Salle des Taureaux

24 Feb 2024
Gertrude Glasshouse 26 Jan - 1 Mar 2024

The Paleolithic painted caves at Lascaux in southern France were so wildly popular following their rediscovery in 1940 that within fifteen years of opening to the public they were closed again. The combined exhalations of up to two thousand visitors per day were destroying the fragile painted images. The public’s appetite for an in-person experience of the cave’s mysterious markings was, however, whetted, and popular demand drove a solution that had already gone through successful beta testing in Christianity: replica versions were crafted. As with the proliferation of miraculous and iconic images of Christ and Mary, the repetition allows mass audiences an embodied encounter with the holy mystery.

Following the closure of the caves, full-scale reproductions of key painted caverns were created to satisfy pilgrims visiting the site, and a touring exhibition featuring replicas of the paintings disseminated the Lascaux experience to audiences worldwide. In 2016, another complete walk-through replica of the entire cave system opened as the star attraction of a new museum (with displays, tours, and a gift shop) on site at Lascaux. The latest version of the famous cavern known as “the Hall of the Bulls,” currently on show at Gertrude Glasshouse, is, however, more fan fiction than facsimile. Mikala Dwyer and Paul Yore travelled to Chenaud, France for the 2023 Glasshouse/Stonehouse residency, and in true fan form they diligently visited all the Lascaux cave replicas. La Salle des Taureaux at Glasshouse is a collaborative response to the artists’ six-week residency that picks up on the enigmatic appeal of the original painted caves, but also the reproductive logic that has governed their modern reception.

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