Bonnie Baxter Jane's America
In her recent series “Jane’s Journey” Bonnie Baxter presents a re-visitation of her own past, re-imagining private details and personal significance in picaresque terms as the metafictional travel log of a cipher-heroine, the everywoman “Jane” of popular imaginings. Ghostly, but sharp and richly ambiguous, the work takes shape in a cycle of forty individual images which divide into groups according to place; here in her exhibition “Jane’s America” at Division Gallery’s new location on Greene Avenue, we encounter and follow Jane near the end of her performative quest, during her time in the southwest of the United States and in California. The images cluster together in twos, threes and fours, remaining individual but further subdividing the episodic chapters of the story; we never can fully grasp the illustrative details about exactly what is occurring, just as we are never allowed to see the face of the titular character.
But the story that emerges makes it clear that we are experiencing a tale at once mythical and prosaic; although whether cautionary or celebratory we aren’t given to understand directly, its atmospheric profundity and visually spectacular effects bring equally to mind the idea of poetry as of prose. Synchronic and discrete, it isn’t entirely clear if even individual instances nonetheless represent literal moments; in some sense, “Jane’s Journey” is a series of snapshots that satirize the idea as well as the existence of the snapshot. Each piece constitutes a form of complex metaphor easy to grasp intuitively, but which we can only understand by some kind of non-verbal knowledge. Caught in time but somewhat outside of it, “Jane” roams the earth as a study of our nostalgias, and by repeating her own, she enacts a deeply coded, quietly emotional, homecoming.