Dolls Found, Words Lost

By Faruk Ulay
[Pasadena, California]: Faruk Ulay, 2013. Edition of 250.

7" x 7"; 42 pages. Texts and photographs by Faruk Ulay. Full color digital offset printing. Perfect bound with soft cover binding. Signed by the artist.

Frank Ulay: "The book was created in conjunction with an exhibition. Sixteen found objects – discarded dolls, all mass-produced during the 1930s through the 1950s – were photographed on a stage constructed by the artist. Facing pages accommodate short paragraphs of text, each loosely tethered to a restless background, text that is abstruse in meaning and hazy in appearance. The edgy setting lays bare the inability of language and photography to converge seamlessly in the collective space. The text invites the viewer to differential readings, multiple layers of meaning, playful readings that allow the viewer to enter into the text and recompose it – over and over. One cannot locate a center, an imperative – a transcendental signified. It is, rather, an unending play of signs that opens up anew with each reading. This project, thus, plays with lost and reclaimed identity, queries authenticity, toys with the artist's intervention/intention to inject uniqueness into mass-produced objects, and calls into question the systems of presentation and representation.

Levi Sherman, Journal of Artists' Books: "Faruk Ulay’s Dolls Found, Words Lost sustains a powerful mood throughout. This feeling of fragmentation and angst is consistent across three main components – images of discarded dolls, abstract semi-narrative text, and an ever-changing backdrop of geometric forms. The subtle changes throughout the progression are highlighted by the book’s unvaried format, which consists of text on the verso and a doll on the recto. The seductive quality of the text and images combined with their inadequacy to communicate a clear narrative invites the reader to form new stories while also showing the futility of doing so. The book presents large, almost ungraspable concepts with imagery of one-of-a-kind objects, which creates a friction between general and specific, between rules and exceptions. The reader must confront the systems through which objects are endowed meaning, and how these modes of representation impact people and culture."