Yesterday I arrived in the Dordogne in France for a 3 week exploration trip of the prehistoric sites. Also exploring whether they excite and inspire me enough to move my residence in their proximity.
Started in Montignac with the most famous of all the Lascaux cave. That is to say the copy of the cave; Lascaux II. It was copied with amazing skill, precision and care for detail.
What impressed me was the freshness and liveliness, the superimpositions, different layers of different animals in different angles. Even no problem to present them upside down and using the lines of previous paintings and drawings and of course of the rock-surface.
What also impressed me was the tremendous amount of tourists and the tourist industry which accompanied them. What is fascinating so many so very different people? Why do they all want to see it themselves?
And as I have studied by now quite a lot of books and films on the internet about prehistoric caves I do know the images and paintings, but seeing them within the reproduction of the cave in their original scale is another experience then seeing them in books. The characteristics of the space, the relation of the paintings to one another, the temperature and darkness do add something significant although it is difficult to explain what it is.
The climate of the time when they were made approximately 15.000 years ago was comparable to the present day climate of Scandinavia with cold winters and mild summers. That 's also why they make sometimes comparisons with information from anthropological research with Sami and Inuit communities.
What also struck me was the similarity with rock paintings which I saw in the south of Algeria in the Sahara. The same cows and the horses. But more representations of humans in the Sahara and a different scale of the images and also those paintings were at least 10.000 years younger. Did they have something in common with those in France?
I remember that night I had the opportunity to sleep beside a rock wands with many cows painted on it. And my deception when I woke up that I couldn't feel anything of their presence and did not dream about them. The air was cool and fresh in the morning of a new day innocent as a child, nomads were shouting at their donkeys. No cows any more.
I am still trying to look with my inner eye, my dream mind, what these caves tell me, what they convey as an experience.
Back in the small town of Montignac, saw some galleries where modern artists were showing their interpretation of the cows and horses. Nothing new to look from an artistic perspective. Just as in the Sahara the cows and horses are not running around any more in the Vezère valley in the Dordogne. It does not make much sense to me to continue representing them. But what would we see now when we are in an altered state due to sensory deprivation of being in a cave?