Wednesday, October 02, 2013


ashes and snowed

Finally getting around to reading Porochisya Khakpour's decidedly negative review of "The Lowland" by Jhumpa Lahira today, these sentences signposted a path for me to understand my visceral, hostile, and similarly negative reaction to Gregory Colbert's "Ashes and Snow" photography/art (sic) exhibit in Santa Monica some years ago:

"Lahiri's place in literature has always seemed beyond reproach, since her cotillion by Pulitzer, but also partly, I suspect, because liberal-educated white people prefer their exotica watered down with high patrician elegance. Perhaps a product of Lahiri's Old and New Englands, all the vindaloos, saris, bindis and Bollywood feel like they've been given a scrubbing by a blond yogini army of Gwyneth Paltrow disciples: understated sweet-nothings, mannered manners, even passionless restraint."

That is exactly and precisely my reaction Ashes and Snow and its immaculate "wild" animals and closed-eyed, perfectly-coifed, pleasingly-braided humans in Vanity Fair ad-copy-like devotional poses. Would that I had possessed the insight! Thank you to the poetically-named Iranian from South Pas, Porochisya Khakpour.  Imagine the mystification of my friends who saw the installation in my company, endured my inarticulate but seething response at the exit way, and are undoubtedly still shaking their heads. Well, probably not. Only I have stewed endlessly about my reaction, surely? Art or non-art: it is still and the viewer moves on…..

Now to delve a bit more deeply, privately, into why my inner curmudgeon took such umbrage at pretty. At perfected. Why taming nature so offends me. Why manicured sets my teeth on edge.

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