Photo by Meridith Kohut; Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

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What is the relationship between coal and ice? A new exhibition at the Kennedy Center, in collaboration with the Asia Society, aims to answer that question through larger-than-life documentary photo displays. Featuring the work of more than 50 photographers and video artists, COAL + ICE begins by immersing viewers in the landscape of the Himalayan mountains. Photos of snow-covered peaks and glaciers are shown alongside pictures of coal miners. As viewers move further into the 30,000-square-foot space, the relationship in question becomes clearer. The visuals turn to melting glaciers, showing the geography damaged by hurricanes and floods. Coal mining and climate change are studied through their impacts on the landscape, and in the final set of projections, through their impacts on human life. The hanging displays feature imagery of droughts, floods, and wildfires. COAL + ICE first premiered in 2011 in Beijing, produced by the Asia Society and inspired by the connections between coal mines, the Himalayan mountains, and the people of the Tibetan Plateau. Over time, it has traveled around the world and developed a more cohesive narrative around the impact of coal mining. In 2018, the exhibition began to include images of coal mining’s global consequences. Now, as it begins a six-week stay in Washington, viewers will have the opportunity to engage with the exhibition alongside an entire festival. COAL + ICE will feature live music, panel discussions, hands-on art projects, and educational resources. Space in the center of the projections—so that viewers can be fully surrounded by the photos—has been reserved for performances, DJ sets, and “creative conversations.” For thoughtful reflection on the climate crisis and the “resilience of humankind,” be sure to immerse yourself in COAL + ICE during its East Coast debut. COAL + ICE is on display through April 22 at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. Free. Proof of vax required.