Iain Baxter& N.E. Thing Co.
Founded in 1966 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Known as Canada’s pioneering conceptual artist, Iain Baxter& has for some forty years produced daring, singular and sensitive works and ideas that have surprised and destabilized both critics and the public. His initial academic training was in zoology and biology, followed by studies in the psychology of education, philosophy and fine arts, as well as Zen philosophy, thanks to a scholarship accorded by the japanese government. This eclectic journey was to lay the foundations for a prolific artistic practice. In 1966, Baxter& gained attention with his installation Bagged Place, a reconstitution of a complete modern home, including furniture and day-to-day objects—all carefully bagged in clear plastic. The same year, he founded N.E. Thing Co. (the enterprise was a joint venture of Baxter& and his partner Ingrid, but was dissolved in 1978 when the couple separated). Via the company, he developed an aesthetics that questioned the accepted structures involved in the creation and production of works of art, the system of art and its marketing mechanisms, as well as the very organization of thought. Iain Baxter& was also the first artist working in Canada to exploit various practices: these included the first installation, the first use of a lightbox, and the first experimentation with information technologies whereby he was able to create art works “remotely.” In the process Baxter& devised a way of doing, and of thinking, that was to earn him recognition among critics and curators abroad (he took part in projects initiated by Germano Celant, Lucy Lippard and Seth Siegelaub for instance) and allowed him to show his work at international events (in 1969, he represented Canada at the Bienal de São Paulo). Since winding up N.E. Thing Co. in 1978, Baxter& has pursued his artistic career both solo and in collaboration with others (in recent years he has produced works in tandem with Louise Chance Baxter), questioning more specifically the system of capital, commodification and objects and the way we live in, treat and consider the lanscape and environment. His achievements have been recognized via major prizes and distinctions, among them the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, the Governor-General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, and appointments as a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, Officer of the Order of Canada and a Honorary Doctorate from University of British Columbia. He was also made Professor Emeritus by the University of Windsor before his retirement from its Visual Arts department. [Source: VOX, 2009]