Julie Saul Gallery is pleased to announce our first solo exhibition of photographs by Jeff Whetstone. Whetstone is known for his depictions of rural southern men and the liminal space between culture and wilderness; man and animal. In a new body of work, Post-Pleistocene, Whetstone explores this theme through photographs of the interiors of caves. A native of Tennessee, Whetstone engages the intimacy and community of the world underground.
During the Civil War, caves in Tennessee and Alabama were mined for their saltpetre soil, which was used to produce gunpowder. These caves have since become sites of lore, obsession, and extensive exploration, resulting in an expansive record of human markings, signatures, drawings, and messages. The caves have been so heavily visited that the markings are often several layers deep.
Whetstone sees these cave walls in relation to Pleistocene era drawings, like those in the caves of Lascaux, France. Here he finds the evolution of human expression represented - from frank representations of nature, to layered, expressive gestures reflecting a culture fascinated with personal identity.
The exhibition features twelve large-scale chromogenic prints of cave chambers and passageways that archive the expressions of visitors - homegrown explorers, wild adolescents, criminals, scientists, slaves. Their names, messages and drawings intertwine with entropic, bodily formations of cave walls depicting complex narratives.