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Ashes and Snow

Gregory Colbert's Ashes and Snow is an ongoing project that weaves together photographic works, 35mm films, art installations and a novel in letters. With profound patience and an unswerving commitment to the expressive and artistic nature of animals, he has captured extraordinary interactions between humans and animals.

In exploring the shared language and poetic sensibilities of all animals, I am working towards rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people lived in harmony with animals. The images depict a world that is without beginning or end, here or there, past or present. Gregory Colbert, Creator of Ashes and Snow

His 21st-century bestiary includes more than 40 totemic species from around the world. Since he began creating his singular work of Ashes and Snow, Colbert has mounted more than 30 expeditions to locations such as India, Egypt, Burma, Tonga, Sri Lanka, Namibia, Kenya, Antarctica, the Azores, and Borneo.



The show first opened at the Arsenale in Venice, Italy, in 2002 and is charted to travel the globe with no final destination. The Nomadic Museum, the travelling home of Ashes and Snow, debuted in New York (March to June 2005) and then travelled to Santa Monica (January to May 2006), Tokyo (March to June 2007) and Mexico City (January to April 2008).

Mexico City
The exhibit at the Zócalo Nomadic Museum closed in Mexico City on April 27, 2008.

The Mexico City opening marked the fifth installation of Ashes and Snow, Gregory Colbert's sixteen-year personal and artistic odyssey. Ashes and Snow is an ongoing project that weaves together photographic works, film, art installations and a novel in letters. The exhibition consists of more than 50 large-scale photographic artworks, a 60-minute feature film and two short film haikus.

To date, more than nine and a half million people around the world have visited the exhibition.

The show is scheduled next to open in Brazil.



The title "Ashes and Snow" suggests beauty and renewal, while also referring to the literary component of the exhibition ~ a fictional account of a man who, over the course of a yearlong journey, composes 365 letters to his wife. The source of the title is revealed in the 365th letter.

Colbert's photographs and one-hour film loosely reference the traveller's encounters and experiences described in the letters. Colbert, who calls animals "nature's living masterpieces," chose to film animals in their native habitats in an effort to be true to each animal's voice. The film can be viewed as a work of art as well as a poetic field study. The film was edited by two-time Oscar winner Pietro Scalia. It is narrated by Laurence Fishburne (English), and Ken Watanabe (Japanese). Musical collaborators include Michael Brook, David Darling, Heiner Goebbels, Lisa Gerrard, Lukas Foss, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Djivan Gasparyan.

The Ashes and Snow exhibition includes more than 60 large-scale photographic artworks, a one-hour film, and two 9-minute film haikus. None of the images have been digitally collaged or superimposed. They record what the artist himself saw through the lens of his camera. While Colbert uses both still and movie cameras, the images are not stills from the film.

The animal subjects of the photographs and films include interactions with both wild animals and also those that have been habituated to human contact.

These mixed media photographic works marry umber and sepia tones in a distinctive encaustic process on handmade Japanese paper. The artworks, each approximately five feet by eight feet, are mounted without explanatory text so as to encourage an open-ended interaction with the images.



© Ashes and Snow. All photographs © Gregory Colbert. All rights reserved. Ashes and Snow is proudly supported by The Rolex Institute. For more information, go to www.ashesandsnow.com.

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