U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Paris Hosts Exhibition Documenting the Consequences of Coal During COP21

COAL + ICE exhibition on display in Paris during COP21 climate talks. (Leah Thompson/Asia Society)

PARIS, December 4, 2015 — COAL+ICE, a documentary photography and video exhibition and project of the Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations, opened November 30th at the Hôtel de Pontalba, the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to France.

COAL+ICE features 32 artists from China, the United States, Malaysia, Canada, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom whose work visually narrates the consequences of climate change that are triggered by mankind's use of fossil fuels.

On the occasion of COP21, COAL+ICE was adapted for the Hôtel de Pontalba, which will host numerous high level diplomatic meetings, and current and former heads of state, during the summit. Ambassador Jane D. Hartley says, "I am so pleased to welcome COAL+ICE to the U.S. Ambassador's Residence during the COP21 Summit. With this exhibition, the many photographers, filmmakers, and explorers who contributed to this project tell an extraordinarily important narrative as they examine the complex relationship between human action and devastating climate change. This narrative is why over 150 world leaders have descended on Paris in the hopes of securing an agreement that will help save the planet for our children and our children's children. It is a story that must be told, and the COAL+ICE exhibition perfectly illustrates why COP21 is important."

COAL+ICE was first presented at Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing in 2011, and then travelled to rural Anhui province where it was installed in a Ming dynasty ancestral hall. It is currently on display in Shanghai. The COP21 meeting in Paris adds to the importance of the exhibition, says Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations and Executive Producer of COAL+ICE. "What the U.S. and China do about carbon emissions will determine what happens to the glaciers of the Himalaya and the great rivers of Asia that find their headwaters in this remote region of the world. And thus it is more important than ever for the two countries to find new ways to collaborate to meet the daunting challenge of climate change," said Schell.

The exhibition is co-curated by Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas and Jeroen de Vries, who is also the exhibition designer.

On the garden lawn De Vries has erected a 14.5 meter-wide LED screen that cycles through two panoramic presentations. The first compares historical photographs of the Himalaya taken by early explorers George Mallory, Major E.O. Wheeler, and Vittorio Sella in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with recent photographs by filmmaker and mountaineer David Breashears, to starkly reveal a loss of glacier mass due to climate change in the intervening years. The second focuses on coal, and includes both contemporary and historical images of mining and miners. Historical photographs include work by Lewis Hine and Bruce Davidson, images that are iconic in the history of photography.

COAL+ICE at COP21 - ICE excerpt from Center on US-China Relations on Vimeo.

Participating artists

Alfredo D'Amato, George Mallory, Robert Wallis, Bruce Davidson, Gleb Kosorukov, Song Chao, Builder Levy, Ian Teh, Stuart Franklin, Cameron Davidson, Jimmy Chin, Thomas Hoepker, Clifford Ross, Jonas Bendikson, Vittorio Sella, Daniel Shea, Lewis Hine, W. Eugene Smith, David Breashears, Major Edward O. Wheeler, Wang Mianli, David Hurn, Nadav Kander, Wu Qi, David Seymour, Niu Guozheng, Yang Junpo, Yang Shaobin, Geng Yunsheng, Robert Capa, Kadir van Lohuizen, Yang Shaobin, and Yu Haibo.

Participating Agencies, Galleries and Organizations

China Features/China Photo Archive, Magnum Photos, m97 Gallery, Panos Pictures, Visu Artists, Long March Space, NOOR, and GlacierWorks.

Presented by Asia Society in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

About Asia Society
Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future. Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit institution with headquarters in New York, and centers in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Mumbai, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, and Washington, DC.

About the Center on U.S.-China Relations
To help forge a more constructive bilateral relationship, Asia Society has established the Center on U.S.-China Relations with a generous gift from the late Arthur Ross. In seeking new ways of building mutual understanding between the U.S. and China, the Center is undertaking projects and events which explore areas of common interest and divergent views between the two countries, focusing on policy, culture, business, media, economics, energy and the environment. The Center is based at Asia Society's New York City headquarters and works closely with other Asia Society Centers around the world.

Media Contact:

Leah Thompson
COAL+ICE Producer