Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa - Creative Arts

Ashes and Snow

A Sunday morning treat – like opening and reading the Sunday papers over coffee and toast, Ashes and Snow an exhibition of photos by Gregory Colbert – beautiful.  Via Startle the Echoes

Ashes and snow is a four-part ongoing project that weaves together photographic works, a film, art installations, and a novel in letters. It is a loving exploration into the nature of animals in their natural habitat as they interact with human beings. No longer shown as merely a member of the family of man, humans are seen as a member of the family of animals.”


  1. por_paz

    Intrinsically, I can understand some of the ideas Colbert is trying to get at to unify human beings with other animal species. The way he actually articulates the concept of harmonizing these 2 in his exhibit, “Ashes and Snow,” fell short in many ways.

    The artist fell into the line of treading on reproducing colonialism but in a coat of “spirituality” that was not clearly addressed. He idealizes and exotifies brown-skinned young children, women, and old indigenous people – who he calls “actors” (how they have been instructed to fulfill their roles is left out of the exhibition, although it would have been a valuable contribution to learn as a viewer). He makes the people passive bystanders – eyes closed, standing or sitting or lying still, almost like limp bark, in a majority of the film clips.

    I saw the exhibit 2 days ago in santa monica. it seems to me like a white man’s version of his declaration of harmony – althoug uncritical of what that would look like with brown-people and people from third world countries actually having agency. he is unclear about the relationship these particular people have in his work. he’s clear about the animals who are “unscripted” however obviously the animals still are scripted as are the people. it’s confusing. colbert leaves a lot of holes.

    maybe good eye candy for those not familiar with critically looking at the role of art in shaping attitudes that conform to colonialism, but I sure was not too impressed.

    plus, the exhibit is a whopping $15 per person – that’s outrageous….and at the end you are dumped into their store to carouse and purchase more things at high prices.

    the artist makes an ambitious statement and noo doubt explores a big topic – but somehow falls short in dealing with his own role and gaze, dealing with concepts of “access” where even the cost to view the exhibit is rather extravagant, as well as delivers a show that requires teh viewer to do more moral, introspective, intellectual thinking than he provides outlets and guidance in thinking…

  2. Thank you for a very insightful and interesting reading of the exhibition which I have not seen. I have viewed the online photo stream and what I am seeing is a world in which animals not people are central and it is people who have to fit in to the animal world rather than the other way around. I dont see it as necessarily harmonious as the animals engage in conflict (or are they playing) and in some instances are threatening to the humans (the eagle).

    I have found all exhibits these days have the “shop” as the final part of the show – people have a choice whether to continue participating at this point or alternatively take time to contemplate what they have just spent the last few hours viewing. as I dont live in America I cannot comment on the price.