Does anybody know what is the deepest cave on Earth?
In the 19th century we measured the mountain peaks and ocean depths. In the mid-20th century we climbed the highest peak and reached the deepest point in the ocean. In the beginning of the 21st century we descended more than 2,000 metres in a cave for the first time in history. Still, we don’t know the answer to the initial question, and we probably never will.*
Caves are indeed one of the last undiscovered places on our planet, which makes our fascination with the subterranean even greater. Caves have drawn people since prehistoric times, either because of belief in the supernatural, or because they were rare safe shelters. Today, we enter the underground for quite another reason. When you find yourself in a cave, you become aware of the fact that you are standing in the same place where our distant ancestors occasionally stayed a few million years ago, where some Paleolithic humans dwelled and used the cave walls as their canvases about 50,000 years ago. Caves, with their fossil and archaeological finds and prehistoric drawings, today serve as an entry to our unknown past, while to our ancestors, they were an exit to an uncertain future.
Eternal darkness, blackness — is the first association that comes up with caves. However, there is a narrow area around the entrance where daylight merges into darkness. Where the field of vision is surrounded by the cave walls, and the entrance becomes a kind of film projector or cinema screen. And once you step into the darkness and look back you become aware of what you are leaving behind. Light. Looking from the inside toward the sky you begin to wonder whether our ancestors’ attempts of covering the entrance have just been unsuccessful enough to let those few rays of sunlight glimpse through a hole in the fur or skin, creating the effect of camera obscura. Did they, through the interplay of light and shadow, turn the caves into archaic cinemas? How did they feel in the darkness of the void? How much is our fear and anticipation when we step into the unknown, or our exhilaration of seeing the sky once again on the way back, different from theirs?
What color was their sky?
*Veryovkina Cave – Georgia, 2,212m (March 2018) is the currently deepest cave.
(To be published as an artist book in 2019)