When you're a kid, the urge to muck with Barbie's plastic perfection is undeniable. That long hair and flawless complexion just invite creative misuse. Our particular "Partytime Barbie" eventually found herself sporting a purple mohawk, Bowie-inspired face paint, and a handmade wardrobe that could have come straight out of designer Vivienne Westwood's closet. Fortunately for us some people have never grown out of playing with dolls, and the fruits of their twisted visions are on display in the 10th Annual Altered Barbie Exhibition. The show is a veritable cornucopia of severed doll parts, flamboyant dioramas, and surreal photography from over 50 artists using Ken and Barbie as their source material.
Diane Cassidy painstakingly recreates famous works from the history of art with her dolls, giving pieces by Warhol, Wyeth, and Whistler witty makeovers. In a series of peaceful, spare paintings, Ronman Ng transforms Barbie into Buddhism-inspired deities such as White Tarbie and Amitabha Budbie, while exhibition co-curator Ruby Pearl takes a more deliciously profane tack with her sexualized representations of the doll. In this election year Lavonne Sallee even puts Barack and Michelle in the show, dressed in their wedding finery and perched atop a classroom globe. And how would Barbie vote? Even with her pink Corvette we think she'd consider herself part of the 99 percent.
The 10th Annual Altered Barbie Exhibition starts Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 18) at Shotwell 50 Inc., 50 Shotwell (at 15th St.), S.F. Admission is free.