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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Surrealist Barbie

In primitive societies, there are often particular figurines considered to have great power within the culture. For us, the Barbie doll seems to serve that function. Such is the power of this figurine that she has managed to stay trendy for more than 50 years in the ever-changing worlds of fashion and toys. She has even penetrated the august halls of the Zymoglyphic Museum, where current events are rarely acknowledged and brand names hardly ever seen.

My niece went through a fairly heavy Barbie phase in her pre-teen years. One Christmas when we were visiting, she presented me with this rearranged doll which is now enshrined as the ultra-rare Surrealist Barbie of the museum's curiosity cabinet. It is still exactly as she gave it to me. Later, she sent me some heads and a few body parts for me to use in art projects (see note below). Then, no doubt inspired by her visit to the museum, she created Nude Barbie-zilla.

It turns out that deconstructing Barbies is practically a cottage industry. The prevalence of girls mutilating their Barbies in various ways was the subject of a recent study at the University of Bath. The Market Street Gallery in San Francisco hosting the fourth annual Altered Barbies show with more than 50 artists participating. It runs through August 27th.


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