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Art and Survival: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jennifer Baichwal and Brian Jungen join AGO Creative Minds this fall

Provocative speaker series returns with a lively discussion about how humans have impacted our Earth. Can art be the bridge we need to turn talking about climate change into action?

TORONTO – Our planet is changing faster than ever, and what’s at stake is our collective survival. AGO Creative Minds returns this fall to debate the question of Art and Survival in the Anthropocene, a new name for our geological epoch that reflects the impacts humans are having on our planet. Live and unscripted, this event at Koerner Hall will feature a panel of gifted artists and activists, including American environmental activist, attorney, and author Robert F. Kennedy Jr., award-winning documentary filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal and internationally renowned artist Brian Jungen for 90 minutes of artful debate. This timely conversation will address sustainability, and the gap between what we know about climate change and the actions we are taking to mitigate the damage, as well as exploring the role of art in mobilizing change. Taking place on Dec. 3, 2018 at 8 p.m., the event kicks off with a performance by critically acclaimed folk-rock singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright and will be live-streamed on the CBC Arts Facebook page, YouTube channel and at

Despite an outpouring of scientific evidence, we have yet to fully confront the implications of our collective impact on the planet – be it carbon emissions, ecosystem destruction or plastic pollution in our lakes and oceans. Is it possible what we need is not more information but new ways to interpret it? Can artists, with their ability to visually depict complex issues help build a shift in consciousness, leading to action?

Environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. believes it is critical to act to protect the environment. Kennedy is president and senior council for the Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit organization that holds polluters accountable and fights for every community’s right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. “As the recent UN climate report shows, we are running out of time to prevent the worst consequences of climate change,” says Kennedy. “That is why it is so important we are having conversations like Creative Minds to explore avenues for sparking meaningful action. As history shows, art can be a powerful tool for social change – and right now, we need every effective tool we can use.”

Baichwal has been long documenting how humans have affected the planet in films such as Watermark and Manufactured Landscapes. Her latest project, with filmmaker Nicholas de Pencier and photographer Edward Burtynsky, is a multi-disciplinary project, including an exhibition on now at the AGO and a documentary film entitled Anthropocene: The Human Epoch. “As an arena of inquiry, art has the capacity to move people intellectually, emotionally and viscerally,” says Baichwal. “This makes it resistant to oversimplification, which can be useful when considering climate change and what we need to do to reverse it. Acknowledging the complexity of the problem, and the extent of our implication, can help clarify our collective way forward.”

Renowned for his striking sculptures made out of repurposed commercial goods and materials, for over 20 years, Brian Jungen has expressed through his work a concern for the environment and Indigenous rights to self-determination. An alumnus of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Jungen is an artist of mixed European and Indigenous heritage. His work explores a long history of cultural inequality and a profound commitment to Indigenous ways of knowing and making. A rancher with over 200 acres in British Columbia, he grapples daily with how to raise cattle in a sustainable way. His goal is self-sufficiency. “Historically, it has taken a crisis to instigate abrupt social change. Maybe art can propel that change, but I believe climate change won’t wait for art to make the first move,” says Jungen. “It’s critical to both discuss and act on climate change now by, for instance, adopting sustainable farming practices.”

AGO Creative Minds is a landmark partnership between the Art Gallery of Ontario, CBC Arts and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

AGO Members will receive a special 10% discount on tickets during the first week of sales, the promotion ends on Oct 24, 11:59 p.m. There will be a limit of four tickets per transaction.

Tickets for AGO Creative Minds go on sale on Oct.16. All tickets will be sold through the Koerner Hall Box Office. They will be available online at, by phone at 416.408.0208, or in person at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning.

Creative Minds is supported by Series Presenters Jonas and Lynda Prince, whose leadership inspired the development of the project. The semi-annual series aims to examine the present and imagine our futures through the eyes of some of the world’s most innovative and socially engaged artists, while celebrating the vitally important role their work plays in shaping our lives.

Creative Minds debuted to sold-out audiences in September 2016, and has, in three previous events, welcomed an incredible line-up of international artists that includes Rebecca Belmore, Sir David Adjaye, Buffy Sainte-Marie, André Alexis, Junot Diaz, Paul Gross, Christi Belcourt, Deepa Mehta, Salman Rushdie and Charles Officer.

For more information, please visit

Creative Minds is supported by Series Presenters Jonas and Lynda Prince.

About 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, 3 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. 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.

About Brian Jungen
Brian Jungen lives and works in the North Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada. 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).

About Robert 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.

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity
Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. More than 75,000 artists have come to Banff Centre since it was founded 85 years ago. From our home in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach.

About CBC/Radio-Canada
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Through our mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, we play a central role in strengthening Canadian culture. As Canada’s trusted news source, we offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on news, current affairs and world affairs. Our distinctively homegrown entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country. Deeply rooted in communities, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We are leading the transformation to meet the needs of Canadians in a digital world.

À propos de CBC/Radio-Canada
CBC/Radio-Canada est le radiodiffuseur public national du Canada et l’une des plus grandes institutions culturelles du pays. Nous sommes la source de confiance des Canadiens pour l’information et les contenus de divertissement canadiens. Profondément enracinée dans les communautés de partout au pays, CBC/Radio-Canada offre une programmation diversifiée en français, en anglais et en huit langues autochtones. Nous présentons également un point de vue typiquement canadien sur l’information internationale.

About Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory
Koerner Hall is The Royal Conservatory’s 1,135-seat performance venue. It is beloved for its architectural beauty and architectural acoustic excellence. Since opening, it has hosted hundreds of concerts and events reaching more than one million individuals around the world. Koerner Hall is celebrating its 10th anniversary season in 2018-19. To learn more or purchase tickets, please visit

About the Art Gallery of Ontario
Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city of 5.9 million, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO’s collection of close to 95,000 works ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art such as Untilled by Pierre Huyghe to European masterpieces such as Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of The Innocents; from the vast collection by the Group of Seven to works by established and emerging Indigenous and Canadian artists; with a photography collection that tracks the impact of the medium with deep holdings of works by artists such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus; and with focused collections in Gothic boxwood miniatures and Western and Central African art. Drawing on this collection—as well as collaborations with museums around the world—the AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. A major expansion designed by Frank Gehry in 2008 with lead support from the family of Ken Thomson makes the AGO a highly-photographed architectural landmark. Visit and follow @AGOToronto to learn more.

July 12 – Oct. 21, 2018:                Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental

Sept. 28, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019:      Anthropocene

Nov. 29, 2018 – March, 24, 2019:    Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires

Feb. 16, 2019 – May 5, 2019:       Impressionism in the Age of Industry:
Monet, Pissarro and More

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.

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