- Full Name
- Jody Banks
- Artist Bio
I began creating altered Barbies and other mutants as gifts and have come to see them as a form of cultural therapy for both artist and spectator.
Altered Barbies are essentially a form of folk art practiced by children and adults alike since Barbie was invented. It’s a way of personalizing something ubiquitous and mass-produced and subverting its original intent, which can be deeply satisfying. You’re expected to play with a toy imaginatively, but transforming it physically and visually is less acceptable. For me it’s a way of hacking some of the psychic programming that toys impart.
I respect the fact that Barbie, a ‘mere’ toy, has influenced the culture so profoundly, but I perceive her influence as largely negative, particularly if you believe that girls are meant to emulate or aspire to her look, her sexuality, her consumerism, and her behavior as depicted in books, movies and magazines.
My work with Barbie has progressed from mixed media pieces using physically altered dolls to digitally altered layered photomontages to the current series, which features single photographs with purely optical effects that are achieved via lighting and exposure controls alone.
- Artist Statement
Many of my pieces attempt to undermine Barbie's status as the ultimate female toy by fusing her with iconic male toys like robots, cars and war machines. This theme is visible in the “Inner Woman” photo series, in which Barbie emerges from the melting frozen shell of a robot action figure.
The “Nuptial” photos expand on the theme of marriage. Many of the people around me are reassessing their lives and their partnerships and choosing to make changes as their time on earth appears to be running short. Barbie has always been very focused on getting married – almost every Barbie book ends with her engagement or wedding – so I’m attempting to question the idea of marriage as a goal or end in itself for both women and men with these images.
My hope is that this work can provide some perspective on the gender roles and consumerist appropriation of desire that playthings reinforce in our collective subconscious.
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- Member for
- 7 years 9 months