Gregory Colbert and Shigeru Ban have opened a temporary cathedral on Pier 54 in Manhattan, and the sermon is delivered in the form of 200 sepiatone photographs, a haunting soundtrack, and a beautiful 45 minute video, in the new exhibit Ashes and Snow.
After a thirty minute wait in line, on a fairly brisk Saturday on the west side, I was all set to hate this one. I'd already seen many of the images in the ad campaign, and I'm really not even a photography fan, but the same reason this NY Times article hates it (’ÄúMr. Colbert's efforts form an exercise in conspicuous narcissism that is off the charts.’Äù) is the reason I would go back. The artist and architect have created an experience as close to walking through a Buddhist or Egyptian temple as one could experience on a pier in the village (no, I've never been to one). And while I agree with the Times writer that you might not give these photos a second glance in a gallery’Ä¶I imagine that’Äôs exactly the reason they’Äôre not. The images are part of an interactive experience that includes photography, video, sound, light and space design. Time spent at this exhibit would rival any meditation class or spa visit.
I’Äôll go with the reaction of the crowd over the critics on this one, and the fact that I’Äôve never been entertained enough to sit through an entire art video (my only hesitation coming from what amounted to an underwater porn ballet in the final scene). Ashes and Snow is worth the journey across the highway. I’Äôd be interested to hear what others think.
On a side note, the artist was in attendance, signing posters in the gift shop, with his mom beaming at his side. What's not to like.