AGYU opens new exhibit, offers private tour for York community members

York University's Accolade Galleria, Keele Campus

Beverages and food will be provided, and will be followed by a live sound and movement performance at 7:30 p.m. RSVP to

Rights of Passage” is a newly commissioned audio-based exhibition by Lou Sheppard running at AGYU Sept. 16 to Dec. 3 with an opening reception Sept. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m.

His 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 Sheppard’s work is an engaged attempt to highlight the systems and structures of power driving the climate apocalypse. His exhibition for AGYU is an immersive installation featuring an eight-part choral piece responding to Toronto’s river systems.

Video still for Rights of Passage, 2022. L to R: Tess Martens, Wayne Burns, and Kingchella
Video still for Rights of Passage, 2022. Left to right: Tess Martens, Wayne Burns and Kingchella

The riparian zone is found along the banks of rivers – a shifting and amorphous line between water and land. Of both ecological and legal significance, the riparian zone within common law traditions primarily addresses the rights of landowners who occupy land adjacent to rivers. Unstated, however, are the implied rights of non-owners to access such rivers and, perhaps more elusive, the rights of rivers to their own courses. As such, riparian responsibilities (as opposed to rights) protects the passage of water over land and the passage of subjects, human or otherwise, along those waterways. When rivers are lost or buried due to development, the riparian zone is only spectrally present. “Rights of Passage” retraces lost and endangered riparian zones in the Greater Toronto Area, imagining these liminal spaces as points of queer emergence, places where the lines between urban and nature, access and trespass, and human and non-human are blurred. “Rights of Passage,” a hybrid series of performances and installations, enacts a symbolic daylighting of buried streams, drawing attention to some of Toronto’s lost riparian zones to consider land use, urban futures, and ecological interdependence.

Sheppard is a Canadian artist, based on the south shore of Nova Scotia/Mi’kma’ki. Sheppard’s site-specific artistic practice manifests in the form of interdisciplinary audio, performance and installation-based works. Sheppard has exhibited across Canada, notably in the first Toronto Biennial at the Toronto Sculpture Garden in Toronto; at Simon Fraser University and Access Gallery in Vancouver, B.C.; at the Khyber Centre for the Arts in Halifax, N.S.; at PAVED Arts in Saskatoon, Sask.; and at the University of Moncton in Moncton, N.B.. He participated in the first Antarctic Biennale and the Antarctic Pavilion in Venice, Italy. Sheppard has been longlisted for the Sobey Art Awards in 2018, 2020 and 2021, and was an International Residency Recipient from the Sobey Art Foundation in 2018. Sheppard holds a BFA in interdisciplinary studies from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Sheppard is represented by IOTA Institute.

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

The exhibition is accompanied by a program of performances and workshops, including a sound workshop with curator and artist Xenia Benivolski and presentations by renowned scholar Timothy Morton, and landscape architect and scholar Jane Hutton. Details available on the AGYU website. As part of “Rights of Passage,” AGYU will also co-produce Lou Sheppard’s contribution to Chapter 3 of “You Can’t Trust Music,” a digital exhibition curated by Xenia Benivolski for A vinyl recording with liner notes as exhibition catalogue, co-published with Art Metropole, is forthcoming.

Please note: AGYU is wheelchair accessible. The exhibition contains sensory stimuli including video, sound and scent.