Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra
In their Treatise on Nomadology, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari introduce their concept of Holey Space (see previous article) by the following injunction:
Metallurgical India. Transpierce the mountains instead of scaling them, excavate the land instead of striating it, bore holes in space instead of keeping it smooth, turn the earth into Swiss cheese.
Deleuze Gilles & Guattari Felix, Treatise of Nomadology – The War Machine in A Thousand Plateaus. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.
This evocation of India comes directly from an excerpt of French historian Élie Faure‘s Medieval Art History which dedicates a chapter to seven civilizations (India, China, Japan, Tropics, Byzantine, Islam and Christianity) during Middle Age. The excerpt that Deleuze and Guattari are referring to is therefore extracted from the first chapter about India in which Élie Faure describe splendidly the birth of Indian caves carved within the granite:
There at the shore of the sea, at the base of a mountain, they encountered a great wall of granite. Then they all entered the granite; in its shadows they lived, loved, worked, died, were born, and, three or four centuries afterward, they came out again, leagues away, having traversed the mountain. Behind them they left the emptied rock, its galleries hollowed out in every direction, its sculptured, chiseled walls, its natural or artificial pillars turned into a deep lacework with ten thousand horrible or charming figures. It is in these monolithic temples, on their dark walls or on their sunburnt fagade, that the true genius of India expends all its terrific force. Here the confused speech of confused multitudes makes itself heard.
Here man confesses unresistingly his strength and his nothingness. He does not exact the affirmation of a determined ideal from form. He incloses no system in it. He extracts it in the rough from formlessness, according to the dictates of the formless. He utilizes the indentations and the accidents of the rock. It is they that make the sculpture. If any room is left he adds arms to the monster, or cuts off his legs if the space is insufficient. If an enormous wall of rock sug- gests the broad masses of monsters that he has seen rolling in herds, rearing their heads on the banks of the rivers or at the edges of the forests, he cuts the wall into great pure planes to make an elephant of it.
Faure Élie, History of Art: Medieval Art. Garden City Publisher 1937
The book is available in PDF in its original version (French) following this link.
See other articles about holey spaces and exhumation in architecture:
– Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari’s Holey Space
– Processes of smoothing and striation of space in urban warfare
– Exhumation & Architecture in Cyclonopedia by Reza Negarestani
– Mapping holey spaces on Pruned and BldgBlog