Asia Society and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announce the east coast premiere of COAL + ICE, a documentary photography exhibition that brings together the work of over 40 photographers and video artists from around the world to visualize the climate crisis—its causes and consequences—as a large-scale immersive experience. The exhibition is paired with the premiere of a six-week festival of events for audiences of all ages developed by Asia Society in collaboration with the Kennedy Center’s International Programming department and Georgetown University’s Environment Initiative and Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics. Programmed as a part of the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary season, this free, one-of-a-kind exhibition and programmatic series utilizes the flexible outdoor and indoor spaces at the Kennedy Center’s REACH campus and runs March 15–April 22, 2022.
48 projectors will illuminate an immersive 30,000-square-foot purpose-built exhibition space on the REACH Plaza. Beginning with stunning suspended photographs of the Himalayan mountains and glaciers juxtaposed against historical and contemporary portraits of coal miners, the visitor explores the relationship between coal and ice as they go deeper into the immersive space and a story of the climate crisis unfolds. The imagery, drawn from over a century’s worth of diverse materials, from glass plate negatives to smartphone videos, documents our relationship to fossil fuels and the consequences triggered by their continued use. At once about climate change and the resilience of humankind, the exhibition ends with an opportunity for reflection and response.
COAL + ICE will serve as a stage for a vibrant six-week festival of events—featuring music, theater, panel discussions, art-making, pop-up DJ dance parties, and more—that engage with local, national, and international communities. The programming, including special celebrations of World Water Day (March 22) and Earth Day (April 22), will invite audiences of all ages to join the climate conversation. A robust slate of education activities will be supplemented by onsite and virtual exhibition tours and specialized student and teacher resource guides. The Kennedy Center’s Moonshot Studio will also offer a series of activities that will complement the exhibition. Festival programming and schedule will be announced at a later date.
In addition to activating the REACH campus, Asia Society will be working with a wide range of other organizations to present concurrent activities and climate-related programs to local audiences across all eight wards and the broader DMV region.
The COAL + ICE exhibition is co-curated by Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and renowned exhibition designer Jeroen de Vries, and is a project of the Asia Society, led by Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations. First developed as an exhibition for Three Shadows Photography Art Center in Beijing in 2011, it has since been shown across China, in Paris during COP21, and most recently in 2018 at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture in San Francisco. Find out more at CoalandIce.org.