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Bonnie Baxter The tragic and premature death of Jane

Works in the exhibition

Galerie Division is proud to present a new solo exhibition by Quebec-based artist Bonnie Baxter.

Bonnie Baxter’s pulp-like series of photographs follow Jane, a character whose narrative stretches over time and genre, where fiction overlaps with biography.  Private details of the artist’s life intersect with public histories in a pictorial travel diary. Jane is the everywoman of popular imaginings, a cypher that contains each of her namesakes from Jane Doe to Jane Mansfield. Facing away from the viewer, she is both the object of Baxter’s photographs, her blonde hair imbued with a cinematic to-be-looked-at-ness, and the looking subject, whose point of view controls what we are denied or allowed to see. Operating paradoxically as both a screen for our projections as well as a Virgil-like guide, Jane stands against vast and diverse landscapes able to contain a surplus of meaning. At the same time, Jane is constrained by the narrative structure taken from Baxter’s own traveling and musings – a multi character pulp fiction that stretches from Quebec to China.

For her latest exhibition at Galerie Division, Baxter presents Jane’s fatal conclusion. While we may expect the narrative to close with Jane’s demise, Baxter insists an opening up, allowing for fictions to multiply around her discovered body. Indeed, the mystery around Jane’s death proliferates physical material such as a local cover story, activates the movements of other characters, and incites us to uncover the actions that led to her death. And if Baxter’s extended identification onto Jane meant that the artist was bound to this animated projection, this final coup highlights Baxter’s decree over her protracted identity. Before we begin to mourn Jane, Baxter insists on her plasticity, marking her as both personal and universal, a coded female body whose death belongs to the torrent of images and symbols from which she is culled.

An audio component accompanies this exhibition, a pulp fiction created by Christine Unger and read by the author and Michel Beaudry. Reversing the logic of a conventional audio guide, this playlist does not offer an explanatory mediation on the exhibition. Instead, Baxter guides us on a détournement that layers the exhibition with a non-synchronous film noir tale marked by canted unease.

Bonnie Baxter was born in Taxarkana, Texas and lives in Val-David, Québec. She has taught print media at Concordia University since 1984. Solo exhibitions of her work have taken place at the Art Museum of Memphis (2008), Galerie d’art du centre culturel de l’Université de Sherbrooke (2010), and the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery in Fort-Myers, Florida (2008). Her work has been presented at Beijing Shengzhi Art Centre, Beijing (2015); Contemporary Art Vojvodina Museum, Serbia (2014); MODEM Contemporary Art Museum, Debrecen, Hungary (2014), and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg (2011). Baxter’s work can be found in institutional collections including le Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. 

The artist would like to thank CUPFA for their generous support.

For more information on the artist