Drift: Art and Dark Matter online platform launches

March 09, 2021 — Events

SNOLAB is pleased to announce the launch of Drift: An Art and Dark Matter Residency in partnership with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the McDonald Institute. This trans-disciplinary residency explores the search for dark matter from an artistic perspective. 

The program began in 2019 when four artists, Nadia Lichtig, Josefa Ntjam, Anne Riley, and Jol Thoms, visited SNOLAB’s underground facility to experience the search for dark matter and connect with the scientists and technicians who make that work possible. According to Dr. Jeter Hall, SNOLAB’s Director of Research, “The Drift project is a stimulating take on the various aspects of underground research. It is always invigorating when artists find themselves in particle physics (or particle physicists find themselves in art). The diversity of ideas from new people with fundamentally different ways of approaching reality is always fruitful.” 

Since the site visits to SNOLAB and to the McDonald Institute in Kingston, the artists have been working in their home studios to create their pieces exploring dark matter and what it means to search for something that we cannot see. The four artists are from Canada and Europe, and their practice spans across diverse media. 

Nadia Lichtig currently lives in the South of France. Her multilayered work incorporates various media including painting, print, sculpture, photography, performance, soundscape and song. She approaches each medium not as a field to be mastered, but as a source of possibilities to question our ability to decipher the present. 

Josèfa Ntjam was born in 1992 in Metz, France, 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 waves. Working with video, text, installation, performance and photomontage, Ntjam creates a story with every piece, which acts as a reflection of the world around her.  

Anne Riley is a multidisciplinary artist living as an uninvited Slavey Dene/Cree/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. 

Jol Thoms is a Canadian-born, UK-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. 

The Drift: Art and Dark Matter exhibition is now open at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and will remain there until May 31st when it will begin a tour that takes it to other gallery locations around Canada, including the Art Gallery of Sudbury.  

In addition to the exhibition, the Drift partners have created a digital interactive that allows audiences to explore Drift: Art and Dark Matter. This digital platform offers insight to the residency experience for the artists, as well as showcasing their final works and discussing the science behind SNOLAB and the search for dark matter.  

The residency inspired a program led by Elvira Hufschmid (Graduate Research Fellow at Queen’s University) called “Understanding the World through Aesthetics.” This workshop program allows scientists to access and play with complex contemporary artistic processes, while providing a platform for discovering and creating more shared processes and goals. Dr. Erica Caden, a Research Scientist at SNOLAB, participated in the initial artist visits to site and will be involved in Hufschmid’s program as well. Said Caden, “More folks on both sides are realizing what art and science have to offer each other, and that the trans-disciplinary approach can help contextualize new perspectives. The opportunity to gain new perspectives on my own research is one of the reason’s I am looking forward to Elvira’s workshop on these topics.” 

SNOLAB is pleased to see the launch of the digital platform and to be able to share the final artistic works with members of our staff and community who graciously opened their workspaces to the artists.  

Media contact:
Blaire Flynn
Education and Outreach Officer
705 692 7000 ext. 2806