Drift: Art and Dark Matter

February 15 - April 3, 2022

Connecting physics to art, labour, landscapes, cultures and histories

An audio description tour is available for part of this exhibition. You can stream or download it here on SoundCloud.

An invisible matter is having a gravitational effect on everything. Without the gravity of this “dark” matter, galaxies would fly apart. Observational data in astroparticle physics indicate that it exists, but so far dark matter hasn’t been detected directly.

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, in collaboration with Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and SNOLAB, invited artists to go the distance and experiment with the contours of our unknown universe.

Nadia Lichtig, Josèfa Ntjam, Anne Riley and Jol Thoms worked with the physicists, chemists and engineers who are contributing to the search for dark matter at SNOLAB’s underground facility in Sudbury, two kilometres below the surface of the Earth.

Through their transdisciplinary exchanges with scientists, the artists have created artworks—sculpture, installation, textile and video—that emerge as multisensory agents in the search for an experience of dark matter.

The title “Drift” comes from the mining term for a horizontal tunnel, in this case the hot underground passageway in the copper and nickel mine stretching between the elevator and the clean lab spaces of SNOLAB. The project thereby begins from a consideration of the forms and energies that connect research to labour, landscapes, cultures and histories.

Audio description tour: CUAG has developed an audio description tour for Drift, designed for gallery visitors who are blind or who have low vision. It is intended for in-gallery use, but can also be used remotely.

The tour provides an overall description of the exhibition, and a description of the installation n-land: the holographic (principle) by Jol Thoms. The descriptions are accompanied by interpretations and further prompts for connecting with the themes of the exhibition.  

This tour was produced by CUAG, in collaboration with Carla Ayukawa and eight members of the Ottawa blind and low vision community.

It was developed as a Creative Access Working Groups project, funded by a Canada Council for the Arts Sector Innovation grant, in partnership with Critical Distance Centre for Curators and Tangled Art + Disability. It was also supported by the Mame Jackson Experiential Learning Fund. 

Curated by

Sunny Kerr

Artists in the exhibition

Nadia Lichtig, Josèfa Ntjam, Anne Riley, Jol Thoms


Drift: Art and Dark Matter is a residency and exhibition project generated by Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute and SNOLAB.