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The Cave Protection Act of 2013

By Michelle Ray
Tallahassee, Florida : Michelle Ray, 2013. Edition of 35.

Michelle Ray: "The Cave Protection Act of 2013 explores the meaning we insert into situations where direction in the form of signifiers is missing.

"The idea for the project came from a documentary about Centralia, Pennsylvania. This mining town was destroyed when an underground fire broke out, creating sinkholes and sucking the town into the earth. I reference these events in the text, 'The community of Centralia, Pennsylvania became unified after the emergence of the sinkholes. / It started with a mine fire. The hot ground opened up and swallowed the town. The townspeople vaporized, condensed and came out pure – a distilled version of their former selves. / They began to ask, ‘WHAT IS COMMUNITY?'

"I respond to how Centralia developed a strong identity because of its erasure. This sense of identity from erasure – of absence speaking volumes – struck a nerve since I had been through the 2011 Tuscaloosa, Alabama, tornado and saw how the town was simultaneously put on the map (in terms of media coverage) and wiped off the map (in terms of lost lives and property).

"I worked from the text of 
The Federal Cave Protection Act of 1988, an oddly poetic bureaucratic document created to give sanctuary to bits of earth no longer present. Using this document as a point of departure, I created an inquiry into absence, domesticity, and memory. The piece’s aesthetic echoes that of government documents in its tabbed pages, hierarchical information organization, and machine generated illustration." 


7.5 x 6”; Text created with photopolymer plates, using Gill Sans typeface. Images generated with Rhino 3-D software and laser engraved. Printed on Talas Antique Endleaf paper. Enclosure is Canson Mi-Teintes and .080 board. Written, designed, printed, and bound by Michelle Ray at Small Craft Advisory Press and formLab, Facility for Arts Research, Florida State University. Numbered.

The Cave Protection Act of 2013

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