Ryo Yoshida Essay

These maidens are made of powdered stone and wood, paper, and sometimes synthetic resin, rather than flesh and blood. The body is constructed of these materials, and the arms and legs are attached with spherical joints. The appendages are attached with fragile rubber rather than tough muscle fiber, the skin is created with a paint that is made up of powdered seashells mixed with an adhesive, glass eyes are inserted in the eye sockets, and ceramic teeth are put in place. Then the hair is embedded in the scalp, and, finally, makeup is applied in the form of paint to the face, thus bringing the doll to completion.

The work of making dolls required incredible persistence throughout a long string of processes. But at the same time, the converting of lifeless materials (materials that existed long before they are brought to life), that results in a sense of have created a humanoid form and giving it life is an endeavor that brings a sense of joy at the instant that a doll is born that meets with the imagined image of the maker. I feel that it is this sense of ecstasy that inspires me to continue creating dolls.

Many different images arise in the heart of a person who sets out to create something. I am thoroughly fascinated with the image of dolls. And I have put those images into concrete form. I have the desire to create lovable and attractive dolls that have a strong and clear presence. There is nothing more pleasing than having beautiful shapes around one. Though human life is short, the shapes and forms that human create live on far longer than the creator. But it is not easy to bring to reality the forms after which one seeks. Just when you think that you have realized an image, your ideal image escapes far into the distance.

I believe that the difficulty of making dolls lies in the very fact that dolls are, after all, dolls. When you set out purposely to express something, there are times when you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a over-self-consciousness that the doll itself denies, resulting in the work in hand becoming nothing more than a lifeless object. I constantly strive to instill a sense of life and presence in the dolls I create.

And then I take my dolls along with me in my further search for a world of fantasy in the act of photographing them. The instant that I get a glimpse of the fantasy of involving them in a playful story, giving my dolls another dimension of life, is the time when I experience an additional new ecstasy.

In the midst of this fantasy, my dolls are easily dissected and displayed. Sometimes they are thrown out into the snow, sometimes they are baptized in flame, sometimes they become dress-up dolls, sometimes their sleeping form is gazed upon, and sometimes they are stripped to reveal their challenging naked forms. These dolls that are devoid of emotion take on various expressions under circumstances such as these. It may be due to the very fact that they are expressionless that they become mirrors that reflect the heart s of people who view them. This life force is stressed even further in dissection play with these articulated dolls.

Thirty years have passed since I made my first doll. But my journey toward creating dolls has only just begun.

I wish to express my gratitude to Hans Bellmer, to my fellow doll maker Amano Katan, to the works and people who sympathized with me, and to my editor Mr. Kawai who has become one with me to assist me in expressing my own subconscious self to large numbers of people through the publications of numerous anthologies of my creations.I also with to thank my wife and daughters.

February 21, 2002 Yoshida Ryo

from "Articulated Doll"