Open Minds: Adapting to the Future
For Open Minds: Adapting to the Future, a 3-night conversation series in the summer of 2016, the Goethe-Institut Toronto invited international artists, experts & audiences to engage about risk, resilience & resources, featuring thought leaders including Angela Merkel’s digital advisor Gesche Joost.
Amid increasing challenges to societal resilience in the face of global mega-trends, the outdoor encounters between European and Canadian experts investigated how arts, culture, and nature can help people absorb and process accelerating change manifested by emerging economic instability, mental health burdens, and climate change. Artistic interventions and accompaniments inspired audiences to assign increased value to creativity, innovation, and cultural resilience.
The launch event theme of this successful series was "Art as an Early Warning System." Gesche Joost, Professor for Design Research at Berlin’s University of the Arts, and head of the Design Research Lab, spook about “Design Fiction”. She was joined by Toronto futurist Sanjay Khanna’s exploration of the arts and culture as early warning signals of societal risk.
The second conversation on the theme of "We or I? Doing Good in a Digital World" featured former Canadian director of Berlin's Transmediale Stephen Kovats, now director of Berlin’s r0g_agency for open culture and critical transformation, which aids in establishing a civic society in the new state South Sudan. Complementing Stephen’s presentation was Ilana Ben-Ari, founder of Toronto-based Twenty One Toys. Ilana spoke about socially innovative design and its role in helping children and adults become more collaborative.
An artistic dialogue on "Mindful/Digital: Art & Cultural Resilience" concluded the series. Hamburg artist Annika Kahrs, born in 1984, studied fine arts with Harun Farocki, and works in photography, film, music, and even with live animals. In her video works on the dwarf planet Pluto she expressed an interest in how objects in a seemingly stable orbit are still subject to change. Her works have been exhibited from the Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin & the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art to the United Art Museum in Wuhan, China.
Open Minds went out with a bang, courtesy of award-winning, Toronto-based Japanese rock band MunizO, whose music touches on relationships amid social fragmentation. MunizO was formed in 2015 by Taro (vocal, acoustic guitar, key), Jiro (vocal, acoustic guitar) and Yuta (drums).
The conversations were accompanied by audience iPads and Tweet Chats and were followed by an open forum with the presenters and audiences.