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Hollow Earth: Art, Caves & The Subterranean Imaginary at Nottingham Contemporary

September 24, 2022–January 22, 2023

Hollow Earth: Art, Caves and The Subterranean Imaginary, presented by Nottingham Contemporary, is a significant theme exhibition that brings together a variety of approaches to the image and idea of the cave. It features artworks from the 18th and 19th centuries alongside works from the 1960s and present in the form of painting, photography, sculpture, sound, installation, and video, as well as archives and architectural models.

Over 800 hand-carved caves in the sandstone bedrock underneath Nottingham. They have served as homes, mines, cellars, and tanneries for many years. Hollow Earth, an exhibition of 150 works by more than 50 artists inspired by this underground city, explores issues of thresholds, darkness, and prehistory.

There are legends about what lies beneath in every culture and religion. Caves are the sites of exceptional occurrences, the home of monsters and deities, and the locations of births, deaths, and rebirth. Caves are locations of sacred and profane images and experiences because they are dark, unstable, and hazardous. They now serve as the location of data farms, seed vaults, and end-of-the-world bunkers.

These gateways to the distant past have intrigued artists for thousands of years. Some people even contend that the cave served as the first studio and museum. Caves have been envisioned as places of revelation, offering hints as to the genesis of our collective drive to create images, following the discovery of rock art in the 19th century. After World War II, artists began to relate the cave to the earliest form of creativity, imagining it as a bunker-like haven from the nuclear age. Today, in a moment of ecological collapse, caves are gateways to both the distant past and uncertain futures, locations where different species and periods of time coexist.

Hollow Earth investigates what draws us to the underground by mapping certain locations and made-up underground realms. The five sections of the show, which mirror the trip into a cave from the entrance to the depths, are separated into.

Organised in collaboration with Hayward Gallery Touring, the exhibition features major works by René Magritte, Santu Mofokeng, Kaari Upson, Jeff Wall and Aubrey Williams, as well as new commissions from Sofia Borges, Emma McCormick-Goodhart, Goshka Macuga, Lydia Ourahmane and Liv Preston. In 2023, the exhibition will tour to The Glucksman in Cork and to RAMM in Exeter.

The exhibition includes works by: Hamed Abdalla, Lee Bontecou, Sofia Borges, Brassaï, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, Steven Claydon, Matt Copson, Juan Downey, Chioma Ebinama, Mary Beth Edelson, Laura Emsley, Barry Flanagan, Ilana Halperin, Frank Heath, Ed Herring, Michael Ho, Hans Hollein, Peter Hujar, Athanasius Kircher, Alison Knowles, Antti Lovag, Goshka Macuga, René Magritte, Gordon Matta-Clark, Emma McCormick-Goodhart, Santu Mofokeng, Henry Moore, Nadar, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Pauline Oliveros, Lydia Ourahmane, Gordon Parks, Flora Parrott, Walter Pichler, Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Liv Preston, Ben Rivers, Robert Smithson, Michelle Stuart, N.H. Stubbing, Caragh Thuring, Kaari Upson, Jeff Wall, Aubrey Williams, Joseph Wright of Derby.

It also includes materials from Drawing Matter, The Frobenius Institute, Nottingham City Council and Picture Nottingham, Nottingham City Museums & Galleries, Trent & Peak Archaeology, Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Nottingham.

Nottingham Contemporary
Weekday Cross
Nottingham NG1 2GB
United Kingdom

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