Both women’s concerns show how fine the line between art and pornography is and how tricky trying to negotiate it is. Mary Beard’s claim in an interview that the nude is always in danger of being “soft porn for the elite” was met with abusive messages in the article comments and on Twitter. Like Boyce, she discovered that trying to start a discussion on the subject tends to inspire hostility rather than interest.
Which is why ArtActivistBarbie, subverting a plastic doll widely vilified by feminists for being a gender stereotype, was a stroke of genius on her creator’s part. “The issue is discussion and starting to view things differently,” says Sarah Williamson. “AAB provides a fun and playful way of doing this and, in doing so, trying to create a world in which there is more equality for women and where they are not just the subject of the male gaze.”
In one of ArtActivistBarbie’s most commented-on posts, she poses on the floor of a gallery in front of Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe. In the first picture, Barbie is naked like the woman in the picture and her two male companions are fully clothed. But then the set-up is reversed and Barbie appears in her glad rags while the two men are naked.
It’s an interesting juxtaposition and one that certainly makes you think.
ArtActivistBarbie is on Twitter @barbiereports.
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