There were two catalysts for the initiation of Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen’s project, The Making of an Archive. One was the photo albums of the artist’s father, an amateur photographer who took countless photographs of his daily life when he first immigrated to Canada in the 70s. The second was the research Nguyen did for 1967: A People Kind of Place, her sci-fi documentary created out of archival material the artist found for Canada’s centennial, which celebrated the implementation of the country’s point-based immigration system. Her research into various national archives for the film – from the CBC, the National Film Board and the Ottawa Archives – turned up surprisingly very little under searches for “multiculturalism” and hardly any evidence of the everyday lives of immigrants in Canada who came to live under this new system.
The lack of representation of the immigrant’s daily life in state narratives seems paradoxical for a country that is internationally known as the instigator of multiculturalism. Meanwhile, the printed images that her father took, much like the countless albums collecting dust in homes across Canada, will soon disappear with age, becoming forgotten or lost. Due to its visual deficiency and threat of disappearance, Nguyen initiated The Making of an Archive, a project that seeks to collect images of everyday life photographed by Canadian immigrants, in a direct, collective and exploratory approach.
The Making of an Archive invites newcomers and families of newcomers to Canada post-1967 to digitize their photographic documents and share their personal histories. These scanned documents together with their corresponding narratives will eventually be made public via an online platform. With this project we as, what is the process of building collective archive? And how do we come to understand our own pictures, together? – MT
The Making of an Archive is a project by artist Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen, commissioned by Gendai Gallery and supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.