Ashes and Snow is a fascinating exhibition created by a Canadian-born artist named Gregory Colbert. It was unvieled in Venice, Italy in 2002 and since then has traveled all over the world. With over 10 million visitors, Ashes and Snow has been marked as the most attended exhibition by a living artist in history.
The exhibition focuses on Colbert's journey through countries such as India, Burma, Egypt and Namibia (to only name a few), where he filmed and photographed the interaction of people and over 130 species. Some of the wild animals included elephants, leopards, cranes and gibbons and the people range from Burmese monks to a variety of indigenous tribes. He aimed to re-create moments when humans and animals once existed in harmony. Without a deadline or a budget, Colbert waited for weeks and even months to shoot frames often saying he was working on the animals' time. The dedicated artist even swam with the sperm whales sans breathing apparatus as the bubbles would create distress for the whale.
“I wanted to use my whole heart, in a whole way, in a whole direction. Some people find that radical thinking, but in other periods of history it was a given,” said Colbert.
These interactions create something so natural and innocent. It's almost as if the beauty brings down all your guards just for a second, and then fills you with sensitivity. I like to refer to it as poetry to the eyes. And a big part of my love and astonishment for these photographs is that none of the them have been digitally collaged or superimposed. I know it's hard to believe, but they record what Colbert saw himself through the lens of his own camera. The photographs are done in umber and sepia tones and finished in a complicated and detailed process on handmade Japanese paper.
The photographs are minimal, yet they say so much. They are peaceful, serene and almost act as small stress relievers. If only people could devote more time to art and true beauty like this, maybe it could create an end-all to the pill-popping society we live in. So enjoy the photos and remember to take the time and discover all the beautiful things around you.