We may read in the news about droughts, hurricanes, and the suffering of refugees and coal miners from the comfort of our floating homes. But it’s quite another thing to immerse yourself in the story of what burning fossil fuels is doing to Earth. Climate change effects are made real the moment you walk into the darkened hall to view COAL + ICE, a free exhibition featuring more than 40 photographers and video artists at Fort Mason through Sept. 23.
Diana Cohn, a South 40 resident since 2001, served on the advisory committee for the exhibit. “I was involved in some of the idea generation about programming and engaging artists, journalists, activists, and photo-journalists as part of the program vision,” she said. Diana is the Executive Director of the Panta Rhea Foundation, which works in the fields of education, food systems, arts, social change and civic engagement for social justice.
Working to make it happen didn’t prepare her for the finished exhibition, which opened Sept. 4. “I was so taken aback at the scale of the exhibit and the depth and breadth of the storytelling within the installations. It is breathtaking!” Diana says.
Visitors visually and viscerally experience the trajectory of climate change from dirty coal mines deep within the Earth, to the vanishing glaciers of the Greater Himalaya to devastating hurricanes. Archival images of coal miners from the early 20th century are paired with miners today in China. A live action weather map shows hurricanes swirling across the globe. Videos and still photography of people in New Orleans bring the power of Katrina home. At the end, you arrive before a large-scale artscape of tumbling water and then pass through into a brightly lit space, with a pop-up Greens cafe and climate change solutions researched, created, and developed by NYU graduate students.
This exhibition is not to be missed. “For me, engaging diverse people through multiple entry points— including dialogue with journalists and artistic performances and spoken word by young poets from around the country—is very important,” Diana says. “I hope the houseboat community will go to COAL + ICE.”
video credit: COAL+ICE in San Francisco – Video Introduction | Leah Thompson