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  • A group of people sitting in chairs listening to a sound performance.

    Lou Sheppard, 'The Great Fur Opera (Hudson's Bay Suite, 1670-)', sound performance, 2023. Image by Karen Asher.

  • Several champagne flutes filled with water sit on a wooden bench on a grey floor. In the background there are many black and white chairs, one of which has a brown fur coat draped on it.

    Lou Sheppard, 'The Great Fur Opera (Hudson's Bay Suite, 1670-)', sound performance ephemera, 2023. Image by Karen Asher.

  • Stacks of small publications sitting on a clear acrylic music stand.

    Lou Sheppard, 'The Great Fur Opera (Hudson's Bay Suite, 1670-)', sound performance ephemera, 2023. Image by Karen Asher.

  • Several black and white chairs placed in a circular fashion facing the centre.

    Lou Sheppard, 'The Great Fur Opera (Hudson's Bay Suite, 1670-)', sound performance ephemera, 2023. Image by Karen Asher.

Lou Sheppard

Nova Scotia

Lou Sheppard, The Great Fur Opera (Hudson’s Bay Suite, 1670-), performance, performance ephemera.

The 1670 charter of the Hudson’s Bay Company played a foundational role in the early development of Canada. The charter granted exclusive extractive and trading rights to the Hudson’s Bay Company, establishing  corporate/colonial rule in the centre of what would become Canada. Though the Hudson’s Bay Company ceeded control of its rights and territory in 1869-70, the charter had established a precedent of extraction that continues to inform settler-colonial relationships to the land that makes up Canada today.

The Great Fur Opera (Hudson’s Bay Suite 1670–)  is named for a satyrical libretto (The Great Fur Opera, Annals of the Hudson’s Bay Company), written by Kildare Dobbs and commissioned by the Hudson’s Bay Company to celebrate the company’s 300th birthday  in 1970. In this iteration The Great Fur Opera is made up of five graphic scores which reflect on the language and legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Charter by sounding the results of present day extraction in Canada. Each score will  be performed and recorded around Winnipeg, (in a nearby silica mine, in a vacant warehouse building, in a large scale retailer on the outskirts of the city), and then played on a provisional stage in a vacant lot of Winnipeg’s exchange district. The Opera offers a  reflection of what has been extracted,  by resonating the spaces that are left behind.

Structured as an opera, each score forms an act named for a passage of text from the Charter itself and documented in a libretto available on site. 

To All to Whom These Presents Come Greeting,

Our Will and Pleasure is,

to have, hold posesse and enjoy, (for french horn in abandoned silica mine)

For our heirs and successors, and their successors, and their successors 

our ample and abundant grace really and fully forever, (1670–-).

Lou Sheppard works in interdisciplinary audio, performance and installation based practices. His work focuses on climate crisis, loss, queer ecologies and economies, responding to the material and discursive histories of sites, bodies and environments. Lou’s research is evidenced through graphic notations, scripts and scores which are often performed in collaboration with other artists and in community gatherings.

His recent work, Rights of Passage, commissioned by the Art Gallery of York University, was a three act drag and choral performance reflecting on the tension between the urban development in Toronto and local river systems. Other works, like A Strong Desire, asserted queer resistance to the DSM V diagnostic text for gender dysphoria by notating a dance work in the margins of the text.

Lou has participated in numerous residencies, including the International Studio Curatorial Program, La Cité des Arts, and as faculty at The Banff Centre. Lou’s work has been included in the Toronto Biennial and the Antarctic Biennial, and he is currently completing a public art commission for the Broadway Subway Project in Vancouver. Lou is a settler on the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq in Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia.

Location: 376 Donald St.

Hours: 12 – 6pm, Tuesday – Friday, 12 – 4pm Saturday


Acknowledgments

We are on Treaty 1 Territory. Plug In ICA is located on the territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Plug In ICA extends our heartfelt gratitude to our generous donors, valued members, and dedicated volunteers. We acknowledge the sustaining support of our Director’s Circle. You all make a difference.

The artist acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We could not operate without their continued financial investment and lobbying efforts.

Plug In ICA relies on community support to remain free and accessible to all, and enable us to continue to present excellent programs. Please consider becoming a member of Plug In ICA and a donor at https://plugin.org/support or by contacting Caitlin at caitlin@plugin.org.

For more information on public programming and exhibitions contact Allison Yearwood at allison@plugin.org.

For general information, please contact: info@plugin.org or call 1.204.942.1043