Ulysses 2009

Papier-mâché head of the Greek hero Ulysses uses curly, lettered pages for hair inscribed with the words of James Joyce's novel.

Friederun Friederichs, Ulysses, 2009; Gift of Paula Chattin; © 2009 Friederun Frederichs

The thoughts of Friederun Freiderichs’s Ulysses radiate out of his brain as curly, lettered pages. These “text hairs” evoke the curly hair of the Greek hero, as well as twisted thoughts of author James Joyce’s interior world as it bursts into reality.

Neurological research has revealed that our ability to think and imagine is linked to language. “Therefore,” maintains Friederichs, “literature unfolds in the head, flowing outward in written form. Ulysses, a novel by Irish author James Joyce, showed us how the stream of consciousness can be transformed into an endless flow of words and sentences on paper. Inspired, I constructed a head using papier-mâché fabricated from an Irish newspaper.”

The head of Ulysses thus serves as a reservoir for literary creation and a book of an extraordinary form—it can be opened to reveal three more books (in the shape of a brain, a comb, and a galley proof) and a bookmark containing a three-leaf clover.

National Museum of Women in the Arts