Louise Herve and Chloe Maillet
Davies, Lillian, Artforum International
The Drachenhohle, or Dragon's Cave, near the village of Mixnitz in southeastern Austria reportedly takes its name from the large bones found there, formerly thought to be dragons' bones. Artifacts in the deep sediment at the bottom of the cave suggest a human presence dating back to 29,000 BC. In their exhibition "The Dragon's Cave or the Burying," Louise Herve and Chloe Maillet channeled the legends surrounding the site, as well as its archaeological and museological treatment, through installations, films, a typed manuscript, and a performance.
The presentation devices of the earliest museums and cabinets of curiosities were adopted in the gallery's ground floor space, which featured a wooden display cabinet, Francis (all works 2010. Its tiled interior contained three cards with explanatory texts and a numbered display panel. But the objects so carefully numbered and captioned were missing. Like in the opening pages of a mystery novel, would-be sleuths were given their case. As the exhibition unfolded, each clue and misstep was revealed to be woven into the artists' larger narrative.
Nearby, illustrated pages of the artists' unique typed manuscript La Caverne du dragon provided hints concerning the contents of Francis. Open on a wooden lectern, with white cotton gloves on hand for paging through, the text described a visit to "the old museum of S. ..." The description of the site, particularly its architectural details and flock of peacocks, suggested the Schloss Eggenberg Museum, in Graz, Austria, which owns some artifacts from the Drachenhohle. Herve and Maillet's document brings to mind the old museum's archives: dark and dense, but bound by an underlying system of order, "a room without windows, cramed [sic] from top to bottom with carefully labeled cardboard boxes and coloured plastic cases." Within this text, a fragment of a second document is contained--a "hastily transcribed" section of another manuscript. …