Sixteen found objects–discarded dolls, all mass-produced during the 1930s through the 1950s–were photographed on a stage constructed by the artist. The project is conceived to live in two exhibition spaces; in a gallery for a short period of time and as a limited edition book. The gallery exhibition emphasizes the visuals; the photographed objects are presented in larger-than-lifesize digital photographic prints and the text accompanying the objects are ‘tagged’ to each print is almost ‘lost’ between the frames. On the other hand the book gives the text equal footing. Pages facing to objects 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 writing 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.
Faruk Ulay received a BA in Graphic Design from The State Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, Turkey and completed his MA degree in Visual Communications in Goldsmiths’ College in London, England. In 1982, he moved to the Los Angeles, where he focuses on authoring purely text-based, literary works as well as engaging text and visuals to create interdisciplinary, multi-layered projects.
In his work that embraces both verbal and visual elements, Faruk Ulay uses photography as his medium of choice to stimulate an ongoing dialogue between oppositions, a shifting landscape which put dichotomies into play: identity and difference, presence and absence, concrete and abstract, the past lingering in the present, among others. Urban landscapes, barren lands, and found objects are frequently featured in his photographs. Text accompanying these images live independently in the borrowed collective space and point to what is not accentuated in the photographs. It is hoped that viewers themselves can undertake the task of seeing the mutating world through the juxtaposition of images and text, and rebuild it from their own perspective.
In addition to his work that incorporates both the visual and the textual, Faruk Ulay has written eight volumes of short stories, two novels, and one non-fiction work-a design manifesto. His short stories and essays appear regularly in literary and cultural journals in Turkey, in the United States, and in Canada.