News & Events

Drift: Art and Dark Matter

Artist Presentations

Drift: Art and Dark Matter, 2021 event poster

The Agnes Etherington Art Center, SNOLAB, and the McDonald Institute are proud to present the Drift: Art and Dark Matter Artist Presentations. These events will be held virtually and registration is required.


“The Deep: Sonic Futurisms and Hyperdimensional Rhythms” with Jol Thoms and Josèfa Ntjam,

Wednesday 2 June from 3—4:30pm EDT

Humans observe the deep sea, the deep earth, and deep space, but cannot grasp them. The deep does not belong to us but can be a rich source of inspiration and magic. Music seems to drift from somewhere beyond and can teach us about modes of presence without capture or possession, about better ways of moving, relating and being embedded in this rocky-wet blue-green world. Drift: Art and Dark Matter artists Josèfa Ntjam (Saint-Étienne, France) and Jol Thoms (London, UK) delve into music and mystery. Together they jam their cosmo-sonic studies through the deep’s inklings of dark matters and other beyonds in a live-streamed radio show presented on the Discord platform. Sign up to save your spot in this free program.


“On Mattering: Imagining Alternatives to Extractive Practices” with Anne Riley

Wednesday 9 June from 3—4:30 pm EDT

Join Anne Riley as she reflects on what matters, on creating art amid a pandemic, and on imagining alternatives to extractive practices.

Riley touches on her work as part of the Drift: Art and Dark Matter residency and exhibition that involved visiting SNOLAB’s deep underground astroparticle physics experiments that are “feeling for” dark matter. The depth and layers of soil and rock blanketing SNOLAB’s underground research facilities are essential for filtering out particles and radiation to aid the direct detection of dark matter. To make energetic space for healing and connecting with human and more than human relations, Riley’s artistic strategies suppress the “background” of colonial “noise” in science and art.

She speaks to dark matter garden, an installation that draws the Drift: Art and Dark Matter exhibition outside of the institution’s walls—and out of institutional exhibition timelines—offering an alternative to the Western ways of thinking about art and science, while engaging viewers in place-based thinking, land sensitivity, and reciprocity. The darkness and softness of soil are vital for plants to take root and sprout. Sign up to save your spot in this free program.


“Ghosttrap” with Nadia Lichtig,

Wednesday 16 June from 3—4:30 pm EDT

Drift: Art and Dark Matter artist Nadia Lichtig presents a 15-minute performance, Ghosttrap, followed by a conversation with Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art. Sign up to save your spot in this free program.

In this ongoing and evolving project, Lichtig collects stories of individual fears. In Ghosttrap, she gathers these testimonies from interviews during her travels and makes long exposure photographs referring to them. In this version, she integrates a new photograph taken deep underground at SNOLAB. In the performance, the artist recounts the stories while listening to the interviews via headphones, echoing them aloud and assigning pictures to them. The performance catches the particularities of language of each of the speakers and investigates how the repressed, interiority and the subjective appears in speech, and how mental images arise. Depending on the context, Ghosttrap is shown as a performance or in the form of an installation in two distinct rooms (photography, silkscreen prints, lights, timer).


Artist biographies

Josèfa Ntjam was born in 1992 in Metz (FR), and currently lives and works in Paris. Ntjam is part of a generation of artists who grew up with the internet, communicating and sending images by electromagnetic wave. Working with video, text, installation, performance and photomontage, Ntjam creates a story with every piece that acts as a reflection of the world around her. Drawing connections to science fiction and the cosmos, Ntjam has said of her work, “I sat there some time ago with Sun Ra in his Spaceship experimenting with a series of alternative stories. An exoteric syncretism with which I travel as a vessel in perpetual motion.”

Ntjam studied in Amiens and Dakar (Cheikh Anta Diop University) and graduated from l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Art, Bourges (FR) and Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Art, Paris-Cergy (FR). Her works and performance have been shown at numerous venues such as the 15th Biennial of Lyon, DOC! Paris, a la Zentral (CH), Palais de Tokyo, Beton Salon, La Cite internationale des arts, la Bienanale de Dakar (SN), Let Us Reflect Festival (FR), FRAC de Caen, and CAC Bretigny.

Jol Thoms is a Canadian-born, European-based artist, author and sound designer. Both his written and moving-image work engage posthumanism, feminist science studies, general ecology and the environmental implications of pervasive technical/sensing devices. In the fields of neutrino and dark matter physics he collaborates with renowned physics institutes around the world. These “laboratory-landscapes” are the focus of his practice led PhD at the University of Westminster. In 2017 Thoms was a fellow of Schloss Solitude and resident artist at the Bosch Campus for Research and Advanced Engineering.

Thoms graduated with an Honors BA in Philosophy, Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Toronto (2009) and later studied under Prof. Simon Starling at the Städelschule in Frankfurt (2013). Between 2014 and 2016 he developed and taught an experimental creative-research program for architecture students at the University of Braunschweig with then interim director Tomás Saraceno. In 2016 Thoms won the MERU Art*Science Award for his film G24|0vßß, which was installed in the Blind Faith: Between the Cognitive and the Visceral in Contemporary Art group exhibition at Haus der Kunst, Munich.

Anne Riley is a multidisciplinary artist living as an uninvited Slavey Dene/German guest from Fort Nelson First Nation on the unceded Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh Nations. Her work explores different ways of being and becoming, touch, and Indigeneity. Riley received her BFA from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. She has exhibited both in the United States and Canada. Currently she is working on a public art project commissioned by the City of Vancouver with her collaborator, T’uy’tanat Cease Wyss. Wyss and Riley’s project A Constellation of Remediation consists of Indigenous remediation gardens planted throughout the city, decolonizing and healing the dirt back to soil. The duo was longlisted for the 2021 Sobey Art Award.

Nadia Lichtig is an artist currently living in the South of France. In her multilayered work, voice is transposed into various media including painting, print, sculpture, photography, performance, soundscape and song—each medium approached not as a field to be mastered, but as a source of possibilities to question our ability to decipher the present. Visual and aural aspects entangle in her performances.

Lichtig studied linguistics at the LMU Munich in Germany and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris, France with Jean-Luc Vilmouth, where she graduated with honours in 2001, before assisting Mike Kelley in Los Angeles, USA the same year. She taught at the Shrishti School of Art and Technology, Bangalore, India as a visiting professor in 2006, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Valence in 2007, and is professor of Fine Arts at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-arts of Montpellier (MOCO-ESBA), France since 2009. She has collaborated with musicians who are also visual artists, such as Bertrand Georges (Audible), Christian Bouyjou (Popopfalse), Nicolu (La Chatte), Nina Canal (Ut) and Michael Moorley (The dead C). Nadia Lichtig worked and works under several group names and pseudonyms (until 2009: EchoparK, Falseparklocation, Skrietch, Ghosttrap and Nanana).