Cole Barash’s otherworldly series documents the nocturnal snowmaking industry
Titled Snowgods, Cole’s latest work documents those who work in the manmade snow production world, their nocturnal lives and the extreme conditions they endure.
- Ruby Boddington
- 20 February 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Although the last series created by Cole Barash which we covered was inherently introspective, for the most part, he is a photographer driven by a want to understand others’ experiences. “I am often curious about other ways or experiences of life,” he says. “Sometimes it’s odd occupations, living situations, sub cultures etc, to further my understanding of the world on a personal level, one that may answer some questions and continue to raise others.”
Previously, we spoke to Cole about his publication Stiya which told two narratives in tandem, that of a storm and the birth of his first child, which both lasted four days. His new series, titled Snowgods, looks outward, documenting those who work in the manmade snow production world, their nocturnal lives and the extreme conditions they endure.
While it’s a series about others, the spark for the Snowgods came because of something very personal. “Over the holidays while at my parents house in northern Vermont, where I grew up, I received the terrible news of my fathers health which would be rapidly declining,” he tells us. “Unable to process many things in my life through conversations or other typical ways I often need to be outside – sometimes alone.”
It was during his time outside that Cole became fascinated with the process of making a product that is from the natural world through a man made approach. “The world of snowmaking is almost ironic to me a bit as in the north east (of the US) the ski industry so heavily depends on it as it often doesn’t have the needed amount of natural snowfall early in the year,” he says. “This is a bit ironic in 2020 as we are all needing to be more environmentally conscious, yet this industry is using a huge amount of natural resources to do nothing but provide entertainment.”
Admitting that he too enjoys the snow – he snowboarded while growing up and continues to do so – it was a factor Cole kept at the front of his mind while shooting Snowgods.
The images in Snowgods are eerie to say the least. Shot in both black and white and colour, there is a starkness to the work; an otherworldly feeling created by stringing together odd moments. In certain frames, the scene is almost entirely obscured by the falling snow and, in others, the jet black sky coupled with workers’ suits gives the impression we are watching an event taking place on a far-off planet, not in a ski resort in Vermont.
The thinking that went into this is clear, when Cole describes what he wanted to achieve with the series: “I would say a slightly off kilter and just enough unexpected small series of images of a mundane or irregular occupation in an ironic industry.” The images, in turn, are exactly that: entirely mundane but unfamiliar to the vast majority of us.
Finally, on what he hopes viewers will take away from the series, Cole says: “The life of night outside can be unruly interesting.” From where we’re standing, Snowgods does much more that then though. It reminds us of the vastness of nature and humankind’s constant mission to conquer it.
GalleryCole Barash: Snowgods
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.