Page-miroir : débouchement/marché-452-hiver/débraillé (1995.238) [Mirror-Page: débouchement /marché-452-hiver/ débraillé (1995.238)], 2021, Metal armature, 222 x 128,5 x 152 cm

Rober Racine has produced several works involving dictionaries, including his Pages-Miroirs [Mirror-Pages], his Musique des Pages-Miroirs [Music for Mirror-Pages], and a model for a garden where viewers could physically move between words. Using a grid system that evokes the mobile painting racks in the museum’s vault, where the work is stored when not exhibited, Desjardins playfully transposes Racine’s paper cut-outs onto a metal screen.

On October 14, 2020, at 4:12 p.m., Isabel Boucher, Head of Visitor Services, sent Chloé Desjardins a description of object 1995.238.

The object I chose is, to a neophyte, just a dictionary page with holes in it. It reminds me of an exhibition I visited several years ago, for which I unfortunately lost the reference. On the wall were hung all the pages of a book from which each word had been cut out. The title of this work is Page-miroir: débouche- ment/marché-452-hiver/débraillé; the artist is Rober Racine. Created in 1986, it was donated to the Museum’s collection in 1995 by Maurice Forget.

When I first saw the work, I said to myself, “My God, it’s small!” My brain hadn’t registered the dimensions when I spotted the work in the collections guide, but realistically, a dictionary page isn’t very big to begin with!

From the photograph in the collection guide, I thought the piece was just a dictionary page, with some of the words cut out and removed, resting on a mirror and framed with a black border, all enclosed under a kind of rectangular Plexiglas cover. But once I saw the actual object, I realized that the black border is an integral part of the work. It’s not a paper mat at all, as I thought at first, but a painted wooden support to which the small Plexiglas box is attached.

The dictionary page is surrounded by a border that looks to me to be made with beige masking tape. It should also be noted that the Plexiglas cover does not protect it completely; two of its sides are exposed. All these little details almost make me forget the mirror that is placed under the page and reflects our image when we look through the gaps created by the artist. In order to see yourself, you still have to get very close to the work, which I find a bit embarrassing.

On the dictionary page, there are also insertions of gilding in the counters of certain letters, such as the enclosed part of a “b.” It reminds me of the illuminations in medieval books—except that here, the artist highlights areas that seem unimportant to me. On the other hand, if you look closely, you can see musical notes drawn in some paragraphs. Perhaps the filling of certain letters with gilding is intended to create other notes?

Another interesting aspect of the work is found on its back. We see a plywood board, the contour of which is painted black. A groove at the top of the support was certainly the first means of hanging. (I suspect that the grommets were added later to meet museum hanging standards.) The artist wrote the title of the work, the page number, and a large “No. 3,” which he circled in pink. He also drew a star in the middle and wrote the word “cologne” in parentheses. Why all this? These inscriptions fascinate me almost as much as the work itself.

Robert Racine, Page-miroir : débouchement/marché-452-hiver/débraillé (1995.238) [Mirror-Page: débouchement /marché-452-hiver/dé- braillé], 1986, Ink and gilt on cut-out dictionary page, mirror, wood, plexiglas, 30,7 x 30,5 cm

Collection of Musée d’art de Joliette. Donation Maurice Forget. 1995.238