Monks of Dust: The Holy Men of Mount Athos

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9780847823307: Monks of Dust: The Holy Men of Mount Athos
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"In the room next door to Father Pavlos's restoration workshop, I discovered a treasure of very old photographs. The pictures were roughly the same size as those that figure on passports. They looked fairly normal to the naked eye, simply damaged and covered with microscopic cracks. I was able to scrutinize them more closely using the magnifying glass I take with me wherever I go, which allows me to open a wider eye onto the world and discover many an unsuspected, stunning universe. I looked at these small pictures through my magnifying glass, and I suddenly discovered that the faces of these monks were made of...dust! The slightest breath could have blown them to smithereens."--Xavier Zimbardo

During a rarely granted artistic residency on the holy Greek peninsula of Mount Athos, Xavier Zimbardo discovered in an abandoned monastery hundreds of deteriorating photographs of Russian monks who were in residence there prior to returning to their home country to fight against the Bolsheviks in 1917. Zimbardo photographed a selection of these images on site, never moving them from where he found them; the result is a visually arresting collection of seventy-five portraits that evoke the chasm between absence and presence, physicality and spirituality, sensuality and disintegration.

With a compelling introduction by world-renowned and Booker Prize-winning novelist Barry Unsworth, Monks of Dust: The Holy Men of Mount Athos is a sublime and moving work.

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From the Author:

"So much is common experience and there is mystery enough in it. But imagine coming upon a collection of ancient photographs and negatives, hundreds and hundreds of them, lying forgotten in a half-ruinous monastary on Mount Athos in Greece, unique memorial of a community of Russian monks who lived here once, a community long ago dispersed, with none of its members surviving. And then imagine discovering that these images have deteriorated terribly, that they are on the edge of extinction, literally composed of dust-- a too-eager touch, even a breath, would scatter them forever. This is the experience that befell Xavier Zimbardo, and this book is the marvelous thing he made out of it."

--Barry Unsworth
from the Introduction

About the Author:

Xavier Zimbardo is a photographer and journalist whose work has been featured in several European international photography publications such as Zoom, Camera International, and Photographers International. The recipient of several grants and prizes, including a grant from the Kodak Foundation and several grants from the French government, he is the author of India Holy Song (Rizzoli, 2000) and four volumes published in France: Ladies; Xavier Zimbardo; Vietnam: To the Country of Contrary Roads; and The Lost Beauties. He has had solo exhibitions of his work at museums and galleries throughout France, including Paris, as well as in Athens, Sicily, Montreal, Milan, and Odense. His work is on permanent display in several museums worldwide including Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale. He lives in Sarcelles, France.

Barry Unsworth won the Booker Prize in 1992 for Sacred Hunger. His next novel, Morality Play, was a Booker Prize-nominee and a best-seller in both the United States and Great Britain. He is the author of thirteen novels, including After Hannibal, The Hide, and Pascali's Island, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made into a feature film. He lives in Umbria with his wife and recently held the position of Visiting Fellow at the University of Iowa.

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