An Ampersand-Shaped Interaction Station

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

For 50 years, Canadian artist Iain Baxter& has been radically redefining the role of the artist, integrating photography, installation, sculpture, painting, drawing and performative aspects into his work.

An exhibit March 3 to Aug. 10/12 Art Gallery of Ontario by the (AGO) will celebrate Iain Baxter&: Works 1958–2011, inviting visitors to become collaborators by engaging with the artist and his work. Special events that highlight the interactive nature of the artist’s brand will complement and activate the exhibition.

A believer in collaboration, the recurring symbol in BAXTER&’s work is the ampersand, and he often refers to himself as “the &man.” The artist, legally added an “&” to his name, reflecting his collaborative approach to art and his fundamental belief that art requires a strong connection with the viewer.

Recognizing that communication goes both ways, the exhibition will offer visitors an opportunity to interact and engage with BAXTER& and his work. Eighteen custom-designed QR codes will populate the exhibition, letting smartphone users watch, share and comment on videos, audio and behind-the-scenes content in the Wi-Fi enabled Gallery.

Baxter& notes on making byobu screens

At the heart of the exhibition lies an ampersand-shaped interaction station where, through Twitter, visitors can share their answers to thought-provoking questions from the artist, including topics of environmentalism which figure heavily in his work.

Featuring some 100 photographic, sculptural and vacuum-formed works, the exhibition takes visitors on an often witty tour through some of the most important themes of contemporary art: the connection between art, business and everyday life; environmental issues; and the rise of photography as a vibrant and relevant art form.

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