The images in Gregory Colbert’s Ashes and Snow remind us that animals have always had a mystical place in the world of humans.
Started in 1992, Ashes and Snow is a long term project in which photographer and film-maker Gregory Colbert works towards “rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people lived in harmony with animals.” Colbert has created a set of romanticized images of people interacting with wild animals in a largely mystical ambiance.
The whole project – a set of images of people interacting closely with wild animals – has a sense of unreality. Yet it is this very unreality that, in its metaphorical approach, transports us somewhere that generates a strong feeling of human-animal connection.
Looking at these images makes us all feel, at some level, that we would like to be able to interact with these wild animals in this way ourselves; to be able to get close and intimate with these spectacular beings.
But of course, in our cities and suburbs, we have all become remote from animals and, in a modern, techno-scientific world, all mystical connection with animals has been broken. In this way, Colbert’s work harks back to a lost world that, however hard we try, we are likely never able to regain.
Ashes and Snow is a large scale traveling exhibit that has already visited many major cities and has won near-universal acclaim and recognition and many awards.
In a modern world with its ever-increasing distance between the human and the natural, we cannot regain what Gregory Colbert has shown us that we have lost – part of our human soul. The only question is how much more are we willing to lose.