Parallel Programming – Lou Sheppard: Rights of Passage at the AGYU

Upcoming programs at the Art Gallery of York University in conjunction with Lou Sheppard: Rights of Passage

Rights of Passage by Lou Sheppard is a newly commissioned audio and video-based exhibition produced and presented by AGYU. Sheppard’s research-based art practice often critically responds to authoritative texts (environmental statistics, diagnostic criteria, government policy), translating this official data into environmentally responsive site-specific sonic scores. Much of his work is an engaged attempt to highlight the systems and structures of power driving the climate apocalypse. Sheppard’s exhibition for AGYU is an immersive installation featuring an 8-part choral piece responding to Toronto’s river systems.

The exhibition cycle includes a series of programs from workshops to conversations intended to frame the themes of Rights of Passage in a broader context of ecological thinking.

Tuesday, October 25 • 3 to 4:30 pm EDT
Registration required.
In-person lecture by Jane Hutton, author of Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements, which traces the unequal ecological exchange of raw materials used in urban infrastructure of New York. Echoing the critique of extractivism embedded in Western relationships to the landscape in Sheppard’s work, Hutton’s research will construct a critical frame around Sheppard’s exhibition.

Jane Mah Hutton teaches landscape architecture at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Her research focuses on the expanded relationships of the act of building – examining the movement of materials as they pass from production landscapes (plantations, quarries) through designed constructions (buildings, landscapes), to care and maintenance through demolition and disposal or re-use.

Tuesday, November 8 • 3 to 4:30 pm EST
Registration required.
Online discussion between Lou Sheppard and exhibition curator Michael Maranda. Looking back at the production of the works that comprise the exhibition, artist and curator will touch on the various trains of thought that went into the process. In particular, questions of how to negotiate the current climate emergency will be addressed, particularly when there is no easy closure or solution available.

Wednesday, November 23 • 3 to 4:30 pm EST
Registration required.
Online lecture by Timothy Morton, author of All Art is Ecological and Dark Ecology, on themes related to the exhibition, in particular the “haunting weirdness” necessary for any artwork to be ecological. Sheppard’s sonic and video installation embodies Morton’s “haunting” as sound and image revibrates, drags, animates, and characterizes the current ecology of navigable waters in Toronto. Morton will identify a radicality that eliminates a construction of nature as other and instead understands an ecology with the rights and needs of culture.

Dr. Timothy Morton is one of the key proponents of Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) and an influential thinker on contemporary art. They are currently Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University and Director of the Cool America Foundation. They have collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Björk, Jennifer Walshe, Hrafnhildur Arnadottir, Sabrina Scott, Adam McKay, Jeff Bridges, Olafur Eliasson, Pharrell Williams, and Justin Guariglia.

As part of Rights of Passage, we also co-produced Lou Sheppard’s contribution to Chapter 3 of You Can’t Trust Music, a digital exhibition curated by Xenia Benivolski for and hosted a workshop lead by Benivolski titled Do Rocks Listen?. A vinyl recording with liner notes as exhibition catalogue, co-published with Art Metropole, is forthcoming.

Rights of Passage is curated by Michael Maranda, assistant curator (publications), with program support by Jenifer Papararo, director/curator, AGYU.

For media enquiries, please contact Michael Maranda:
For accessibility and accommodation needs, please contact:

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is a public, university-affiliated, non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and by our membership.

York University acknowledges its presence on the traditional territory of many Indigenous Nations. The area known as Tkaronto has been taken care of by the Anishinabek Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Huron-Wendat. It is now home to many Indigenous Peoples from numerous First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. We acknowledge the current treaty holders, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

AGYU promotes 2SLGBTQIAP+ positive spaces & experiences and works towards being barrier free.

We are committed to anti-racism and working to eradicate institutional biases and develop accountable programs that support Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.

Art Gallery of York University
Accolade East Building
4700 Keele Street
Toronto ON M3J 1P3