Micheline Durocher — [ 1997] — 1 portfolio : ill. ; 32 x 32 cm.
© Micheline Durocher. Reproduced with the permission of Micheline Durocher.
Library and Archives Canada
With this project I investigated language and tests as material culture, and narrative as something porous, as something the viewer could piece together. The bookwork is comprised of photo-etchings, a narrative text between a child and an adult written by myself, a glass plate where the memory test is engraved and a book binding reminiscent of a children’s school case for writing. The book-binding is created by Jacques Fournier of Edition Roselin in Montreal.
The book work draws on archival images that were drawn by immigrants who were subjected to tests upon arrival to North America. Their drawings represent the first efforts in the 20th century to create a methodology of testing and are the precursor of the IQ test. The method consisted in asking immigrants to draw images from memory. Then for the purpose of creating data and interpretation, the original drawings were retraced and organized in a grid.
My acts of retracing these images through printmaking, are acts of retracing my own family’s migration to Ellis Island as they would have arrived at about the same time these tests were conducted. Redrawing also positions my art making in parallel to another hand that redrew the images with the purpose of interpreting. And ultimately, I am also redrawing the memory of the hand of the individual, an immigrant who completed these tests with perhaps apprehension, concern, hopefulness. In these retracing I embody different subject positions.