Friday, April 14, 2006
"Ashes and Snow"
Sigmund Freud once said, “beauty has no obvious use; nor is there any clear cultural necessity for it. Yet civilization could not do without it.” After spending five days in LA, a town infamously known for its obsession with physical beauty, Freud could not ring more true.
But apart from all of the gluttony, celebrity hang-outs and clichéd superficiality, we managed to experience a beauty worth mentioning; Gregory Colbert’s multi-media masterpiece, “Ashes and Snow” showing through May 14th on the Santa Monica Pier.
The ever-evolving traveling exhibition had its first iteration on the Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 last March. Although it has been showing in LA since January, lines of enthusiasts eagerly wrapped around the Nomadic Museum in the hundreds.
Once inside the museum, an industrial structure that is part of the exhibit, there is an overwhelming sense of calm. Viewers walk down a narrow pathway surrounded on either side by incredible images hung from transparent wire. As the audience passes through, the artwork sways soothingly about above a zen-like stone garden.
The instillation, which has been a life-long project for Colbert, uses photographs and
film to explore the extraordinary interactions between humans and animals. With images shot in India, Egypt, Tonga, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Antarctica and other seemingly intangible locales, Colbert beautifully captures an instinctual side of humanity and nature that to most people, ceases to exist.
A theme of tranquility carries throughout the exhibit as a child leans lovingly leans against a leopard, women and elephants lounge lethargically and humans dance with whales beneath the ocean’s surface.
Since no images have been digitally collaged or superimposed, “Ashes and Snow” is as unbelievable as it is stunning, moving and completely remarkable.
Final Word: As for “Ashes and Snow,” words carry little weight. If you’re not heading to Santa Monica anytime soon, try to get your hands on a copy of the DVD to experience it for yourself.