There have been a number of contemporary series exploring man’s effect on nature and nature’s affect on man. Jeff Whetstone’s project, Post Pleistocene, not only has a remarkable quality of altered beauty, but provides thought provoking images of man’s desire to mark his territory. Upon first glance, the viewer feels distress at the visual invasion of graffiti, and then comes to the realization that these markings are just another layer of history.
“The 160 years of graffiti on the walls of these caves in Tennessee and Alabama are commemorations of the ritual of exploration. When the work on these cave walls is compared to Pleistocene era art making, like that in the caves of Lascaux, one can imagine the course of human evolution–from frank representations of nature, to layered, expressive gestures that reflect a culture fascinated with personal identity.
I photographed these caves from the vantage point of an artist, explorer, evolutionist, and native son. These catacombs elicit and archive the drawn voices of wild adolescents, homegrown explorers, criminals, scientists, and slaves. Their names, messages, and drawings together with the entropic, bodily forms of the cave walls tell a complicated story where human culture and the changing earth intertwine.”
After receiving his MFA in photography from Yale in 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Sakier Prize for photography. Jeff currently in on the faculty the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Whetstone was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 for a body of work entitled, New Wilderness.
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