- A Sculpture of James Joyce’s Ulysses
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For some years, I wanted to create a sculpture from a novel and somehow to bring its words and thoughts into concrete form, to draw them from their entombment inside the covers of the book. Ulysses seemed a good place to start, in that it is linked with a specific place and time—Dublin, Ireland, on 16 June 1904. The novel creates an interior landscape of the city, fashioned by thought, voice, and conversation. My sculpture maps those narratives and interior monologues onto the cartographic framework of historical Dublin since the image is built from a 1904 map of the city. Certain key reference points are found in their precise geographic locations, including the home of Leopold and Molly Bloom, which is clearly visible, as is the Tyrone Street Brothel. The episode titles follow the route home towards 7 Eccles Street.
The sculpture contains elements of the novel’s structure and episode titles, with the body organs listed in the Stuart Gilbert schema linked to each one. The famous affirmation of Molly Bloom at the end of the novel can be followed along the Liffey in brown text from left to right. This text is also reconstituted in a more fragmentary fashion in gray in the bulk of the work. The yellow text is a section from “Proteus,” as Stephen Dedalus contemplates the primordial and elemental world of water. The red text in the center of the work is comprised of Leopold Bloom’s interior thoughts about Molly in “Nausicaa.” The red text surrounding the entire city combines the narratives of Stephen and Bloom and is related to the circularity of life: “Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home” (U 13.1110–11). The red exterior text encloses and unifies the whole form, so that resembles two sides of the brain, the female portion in brown on the center left and the male toward the center right.
The sculpture allows Joyce’s words to be read in fragments, thus permitting a continuous recontextualization. The whole city is filled with a multitude of voices, both spoken and thought, evoking the exquisite poetry and poignancy of James Joyce’s writings. [End Page 221] Limited-edition, large-format prints of the sculpture are available at the Sumarria Lunn Gallery in London: <www.sumarrialunn.com>.