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Project Statement

by J. Drucker

In the late 1980s, I was still involved in working on the biography of Ilia Zdanevich (Iliazd), begun in 1985 when I was a Fulbright Fellow in Paris, working on my dissertation. That biography went through many iterations, and was finally left unpublished after Northwestern cancelled my contract. I had lost interest in the project, swept up in other matters, but the process of research and synthesis from documents and snippets of different kinds of materials had touched a nerve. I found this utterly satisfying to a certain obsessive streak. And so the structures of biography-writing, with all their connect-the-dots assumptions, varieties and ranges of sources and voices, evidence and documents, etc., were extremely appealing. Structurally, then, Simulant Portrait was conceived to mimic that process of research. Thematically the book was closer to older themes, of women and their lives, biographies and celebrity, the tensions of mass and literary culture in my own mind, and so on. The cyber-pulp aspect of the book is harder to place, as my proclivities were hardly sci-fi at that moment. Only that such notions were in the air, with Philip K. Dick (particularly the film Blade Runner) and William Gibson (rising star) occupying a certain popular imagination.

Simulant Portrait

Johanna Drucker


Johanna Drucker

type: initiating


born: United States
active: United States
citizenship: United States

birth: 1952-05-30

Pyramid Atlantic

type: initiating


location: Maryland

note: The grant for this project came from Pyramid Atlantic, thanks to Betsy Davids. This grant prompted the project. [J. Drucker]

Publication Information

publisher: Druckwerk and Pyramid Atlantic

production: 1990-03-15 Production took place from March through July, 1990.
publication: 1990-08-30

publication history: One edition only, about 300 copies, all distributed by Pyramid Atlantic. [J. Drucker]

Aesthetic Profile


artists' books (LCSH)

themes: Female subjectivity, feminist theory, cyborg and sci-fi themes. [J. Drucker]

content form:
narrative (local)
experimental text (local)

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: Philip K. Dick always has to be acknowledged as a background figure. But ghost written Hollywood movie star biographies and autobiographies were definitely an inspiration as well as the graphic forms of women's magazines. [J. Drucker]

related works: In my work, Against Fiction, Narratology, and A Girl's Life, for the feminist and also popular culture graphic references, obscure as they may seem. The connection to work to Donna Haraway may seem obvious, but this book was written, produced, and finished before I had seen or heard of her work, and before I had read any William Gibson. My ignorance, but interesting to note. [J. Drucker]

other influences: Women's autobiography and biography, popular and literary. [J. Drucker]

community: none [J. Drucker]

note: A project conceived in peculiar isolation, though I was living in New York City at the time. A hot summer, and a lonely one, working hard. [J. Drucker]

Related Documents

manuscript type: correspondence

location: artist's archive

note: All sorts of correspondence and such exists.

manuscript type: mockups

location: artist's archive

note: Plenty of these exist, along with trials.

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

note: All the texts, outtakes, etc. exist.

manuscript type: texts

location: artist's archive

note: Many related documents exist for the project, and its production. Some may even be interesting.

General Comments

In many ways, this book is part of a much larger project of writing that has been a persistent theme: women, narrative, popular genres, and fiction, as well as issues about the construction of female subjectivity. How do we become the subjects of our own narratives? What are those narratives? Where do they come from? How are they constructed in popular culture and in literary fiction? Because this project includes so many citations and references from various sources in literary and popular culture, it is an inventory of such ideas. [J. Drucker]