Ashes and Snow

April 8, 2005

On this cold, windy but bright Friday, I went to Pier 54 (near W. 13th St.) on the Hudson River to visit the Nomadic Museum. I’ve heard that on most days there are long entrance lines, but today there was no waiting. I walked right inside and the colossal space was nearly empty.

The Nomadic Museum is a 45,000-square-foot temporary space made from paper tubes, tea bags and 148 metal shipping containers. The building, which resembles a cross between a warehouse and a cathedral, is devoted exclusively to “Ashes and Snow,” a multi-media exhibit of the work of Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert.

The show opened in March and will remain in New York only until June 6; the entire museum and its contents will then be disassembled, shipped across the country and remounted in Los Angeles. Organizers plan for it to then continue its travels to Beijing, Paris and other stops that haven’t yet been announced.

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The structure is the result of a collaboration between Colbert and Japanese architect Shigeru Ban: they have created a mobile museum that is moving around the world to exhibit 199 large-scale, sepia-toned photographs of people and animals and a black and white film edited by Oscar winner Pietro Scalia and narrated by actor Lawrence Fishburne. The photos, the film, the lighting, the music and the space itself are awe-inspiring. At the end of the one-hour film, the narrator intones:

Feather to fire
Fire to blood
Blood to bone
Bone to marrow
Marrow to ashes
Ashes to snow

After seeing the exhibit, I stopped into the Chelsea Market for a little nourishment: a soft, sweet pumpkin muffin and rich, dark coffee at Sarabeth’s Kitchen. Also picked up a loaf of potato onion dill from Amy’s Bread; with a bowl of steaming hot pea soup and a little salad, it’ll make a nice, homey dinner.

  • Ashes and Snow
  • Chelsea Market
  • Sarabeth’s Kitchen
  • Amy’s Bread

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