Amidst the tragedy of the terrorist attacks, all French cultural institutions were shut down, as was the photography fair Paris Photo, located in the historic Grand Palais. As participants soberly tempered their business losses alongside the loss of human life, previous exhibitions in the Grand Palais were likely far from their minds. But the 28-foot tall, 265-ton Arctic iceberg that the fashion brand Chanel had erected at the same site as a slick runway for Fashion Week in 2010 looks different now, refracted through Ice Watch Paris. The pathos of Eliasson and the decadence of Lagerfeld mark different poles on the spectrum of artistic creativity, but both are significant episodes in the increasingly atmospheric aesthetics of climate change.
Viewing these two Parisian installations of icebergs, as different as they are, on the same page is a model for how we might juxtapose the November 2015 attacks with Ice Watch Paris
. A great challenge of art, which climate activist art feels acutely, is taking what is large and dispersed and rendering it on a scale that a single human can make sense of. The collisions of circumstance have brought climate change and terrorism together in the relatable social space of loss, collisions that threaten to multiply in the future
. For a historic moment in Paris, human tears mix with the tears of the glacier.