January 21, 2014 - Comments Off on Donovan Ward – Brutalised Barbie – 3 March – 10 April 2014
The American corporation Mattel Inc. started producing the Barbie doll in 1959. Barbie, like many products marketed at children by corporations based in the highly industrialised economies, has become ubiquitous. There have been approximately 2000 different types of Barbie dolls with accessories designed, and although marketed globally at children, the toy is also collected by adults.
The image of Barbie that endures is of a white, all American, and blue eyed blonde. Barbie occupies a fantasy world and she is promoted as a lifestyle, and not just a toy.
The doll comes in various versions that include a Hawaii beach type Barbie, a beauty queen Barbie, fairy Barbie as well as a princess Barbie. Nowhere is she represented as a migrant worker, blue collar worker, an activist interested in social issues or for that matter unemployed. She and her accruements largely reflect a happy though vacuous lifestyle that seems to echo a commodity culture promoted by the mainstream media. Barbie and her adornments register the lifestyle and values of the privileged consumer and capitalism.
The reality of most of the world’s children is not reflected in Barbie‘s world. This body of work attempts to draw attention to some of their realities. Some live in war zones and occupied territories like Palestine and Afghanistan. Others live with the memories and trauma of the bombing of Baghdad and Gaza, or the aftereffects of Agent Orange and the killing fields of Cambodia, Vietnam and Rwanda. Millions of children also live in abject poverty and are often exposed to drugs, sexual abuse and violence; in addition to being exposed to toxic pollutants and its effects.
This body of work builds upon a series of Barbie dolls started started by Donovan Ward in 1995.