Arts·Creative Minds

As the climate teeters on the edge, can art help us survive?

At AGO Creative Minds, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Jennifer Baichwal, Brian Jungen and Tanya Talaga discuss art amid ecosystem collapse.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Jennifer Baichwal, Brian Jungen and Tanya Talaga discuss art amid ecosystem collapse

Our planet is reaching a tipping point. As global temperatures rise, the effects of climate change are accelerating around us. From melting polar ice caps to deadly storms to catastrophic floods to raging wildfires, the world is heating up at an unprecedented scale, threatening our very survival.

In this man-made epoch, known as The Anthropocene, can we incite change through art? Can we bridge the gap between knowledge and action? On December 3rd, AGO Creative Minds presents a conversation about our destructive footprint on the planet, and poses the question: can art steer us toward a better future and help us survive?

Watch a trailer:

As artists grapple with the implications of our current geological epoch, in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change – we invite them to enter into conversation around humanity’s massive and destructive reengineering of the planet. 0:44

At Toronto's Koerner Hall, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Jennifer Baichwal, Brian Jungen​ and the newly added Tanya Talaga will speak to how art can impact this existential question of our times: survival.

The event is hosted by CBC's Duncan McCue and kicks off with a musical performance by Martha Wainwright. Stream the event live this Monday, December 3rd at 8pm ET here at or on our YouTube or Facebook and you can buy tickets now to see it live in Toronto.

About the guests:

(Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an American environmental attorney, author, activist, clean technology entrepreneur and radio host. He is an Irish American, son of the New York Senator and former Attorney General Robert Francis Kennedy and the nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy serves as Senior Attorney and President of Waterkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit focused on grassroots efforts to preserve and protect waterways worldwide. He is an environmental law specialist and partner at the law firm of Morgan and Morgan. Kennedy was named one of Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Agents of Change." Kennedy co-hosts Ring of Fire, a nationally syndicated American radio program and is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Law at Pace University Law School in White Plains, New York.

(Jennifer Baichwal)

Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for over 20 years. Her films have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally, including an International Emmy, three Gemini Awards, and Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs, for features such as Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles, The Holier It Gets, Act of God and Payback.

Her documentary Manufactured Landscapes won, among others, TIFF's Best Canadian Film and Al Gore's Reel Current Award. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide and was named as one of 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History by TIFF in 2016. The feature documentary Watermark premiered at TIFF 2013, and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film. Anthropocene: The Human Epoch premiered at TIFF 2018 and is in theatres now.

(Brian Jungen)

Brian Jungen lives and works in the North Okanagan, British Columbia. He draws from his family's ranching and hunting background, as well as his Dane-zaa heritage, when disassembling and recombining consumer goods into sculptures.  Solo exhibitions include Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2016); Kunstverein Hannover (2013); Bonner Kunstverein (2013); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2011); Strange Comfort, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC (2009); Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2007); Tate Modern, London (2006); Vancouver Art Gallery (2006); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2006); and the New Museum, New York (2005). Modest Livelihood, a collaborative work with Duane Linklater, has been shown at the Edinburgh Art Festival (2014); Art Gallery of Ontario (2013); and the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre, in collaboration with dOCUMENTA (13) (2012).  Recent group exhibitions include Liverpool Biennial (2018); Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville (2018); and Unsettled, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno (2017).

(Tanya Talaga)

Tanya Talaga is the acclaimed author of Seven Fallen Feathers, which was the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and First Nation Communities Read: Young Adult/Adult. The book was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Nonfiction Prize and the BC National Award for Nonfiction, and it was CBC's Nonfiction Book of the Year, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book and a national bestseller. For more than 20 years she has been a journalist at the Toronto Star, and has been nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism. She was also named the 2017–2018 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy. Talaga is of Polish and Indigenous descent. Her great-grandmother, Liz Gauthier, was a residential school survivor. Her great-grandfather, Russell Bowen, was an Ojibwe trapper and labourer. Her grandmother is a member of Fort William First Nation. Her mother was raised in Raith and Graham, Ontario. She lives in Toronto with her two teenage children

(Martha Wainwright)

Martha Wainwright is a beguiling performer and a refreshingly different force in music. With an undeniable voice and an arsenal of powerful songs, Wainwright released her self-titled debut LP to critical acclaim in 2005. In 2008, she followed with her sophomore album, I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too, which showed her great musical maturity and talent as a songwriter. In 2010 she toured the world promoting her third album, San Fusils, Ni Souliers A Paris: Martha Wainwright's Piaf Record. Her 2012 album, Come Home To Mama, was heralded by Mojo Magazine as a "substantial and brilliantly sung career best." Her last album, Goodnight City, returned to the rawness of her first release and includes songs by Wainwright, as well as songs written by Beth Orton, Glen Hansard, her brother Rufus Wainwright, Michael Ondaatje and Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Martha tours her music around the world to sold-out audiences on several continents.