Featured Artist: Martha Briana

The Barbie Body as Icon and Myth


832611_origThe limited and not so fluid movement of Barbie acts as a starting point in human expression.  If she could tell you what it feels like to be twisted and turned to the point of having her legs f    all off, it would mark her as imperfect, give her humanity, maybe even a life and a death .  Barbie is as ubiquitous as the plastic she is made from, as Steve Dubin states in, “The Barbie Chronicles” something to the fact that if you stood every Barbie ever produced (and this was in the 1990’s) end to end you would travel the circumference of the earth three times.  What is so compelling about Barbie is the love hate relationship many women have with her; this aside, she stands out as a toy mannequin that has a self-reflective allure.

Barbie is a toy, you bring her to life by how you treat her, how you imagine her regardless of her shape and accessories.  As humans, we anthropomorphize much of what we come into contact with when we are children and this continues when we grow up.  Most cultures have traditional fables with talking animals, trees, rocks, etc. The captain may speak of his vessel as “her”.  B.B King gave the name “Lucille” to his guitar.  We relate to the world and socialize with many of our pets as if they were people as well.

What’s different about Barbie is that she has a bit of her own agenda.  She is built to be a sexy knockout, but take her clothes off and you notice this unrealistic wasp-like waist and torpedo breasts. [1] How wonderful and strange to be super-sexual, a femme fatale in her prime.  Barbie, born in 1959, and shaped like Marilyn Monroe, she shares a similar myth with the pin-up turned actress who set a stage for beauty, sex, and death in America.1157699_orig

Martha Briana plays with dolls in an effort to learn more about being human.

[1] Ockman, Carol.  “Barbie Meets Bouguereau: Constructing an Ideal Body for the Late-Twentieth Century,” (The Barbie Chronicles, 1999)