Iain Baxter& Art is All Over
2006.10.22 - 2007.01.07
MARIE J. JEAN
Founding figure of the Vancouver art scene, Iain Baxter& (prononced “Baxterand”) remains little-known in Europe but is a mainstay of major collections in North America, where there is renewed interest in his work of late. The Centre National d’Art Contemporain de la Villa Arson, in collaboration with VOX, Centre de l’Image Contemporaine (Montreal), is mounting the first significant show of Baxter&’s work in France; it includes major projects from 1964 to the present day.
By turns Duchampian and McLuhanesque, prolific albeit a tad scattered, a conceptual artist and pioneer of photoconceptualism, Baxter& has for forty years now mapped out a unpredictable, singular oeuvre, freed from the shackles of artistic and cultural hierarchies and resonant with contemporary social issues. He also broke new ground when he situated his artistic practice in a company, the N.E. Thing Co. (soon to be internationally renowned, it was founded in 1966, officially incorporated in 1969 and co-presided over by Baxter& with his wife, Ingrid Baxter, from 1970 to 1978). Its mission was to “produce sensitivity information” via its eleven departments—among them the Research, Projects, Consulting, COP (Copying or Plagiarism) and Film departments, and not one but two Thing departments. Baxter& adopted a singular tone, marked by a derisive nominalism, in developing an out-of-the-ordinary aesthetics that would borrow from the widest possible variety of fields, eventually to encompass site-specific interventions, marketing, telecommunications, investigation, publishing, documentation, teaching, the environment, a restaurant business, circulation, surveying and activism in every field—as well as borrow from a fair share of artistic languages, including photography as a practice documenting the everyday.
This exhibition, an extension of the one originally mounted by VOX en September 2005, brings together some forty works along with an imposing amount of documentation, all testifying to the spirited approach and methods of N.E. Thing Co. and Iain Baxter&. Marie Josée Jean, Artistic Director, VOX Contemporary Image Gallery, and Paris-based art critic Christophe Domino prepared the exposition with the collaboration of the artist, who will on the occasion of the exhibition lead a workshop with Villa Arson students.
Exhibition produced by VOX and presented within the event Septembre de la Photo 2006 with the support of the City of Nice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
Tanks to : Frac Bretagne, Ambassade du Canada en France, Canada Council Art Bank and Chrysler dealers in Nice.