"Mary Ellen Elkins" <[log in to unmask]>

9:26 AM

I want to suggest that the Barbie gestalt -- exaggerated breasts,
hips,and feet within a realistic context -- works similarly to the
surrealist gestalt, a form exceptional for its ability to focus the
unconscious toward the exaggerated features and a form to which
prepubescent children are particularly responsive.

According to  Nancy R Smith in _Art and Experience_, (Harvard U. Press)
our prepubescent approach toward realism represents our first, tentative
approach toward the external, objective reality that surrounds us. Smith
states that this age group's progression toward realism (objective
reality) is accompanied by periods of severe insecurity and ambivalence:
the normal child at this age is on a threshold, moving from a world
primarily concerned with her subjective experience (where she felt
secure) toward the world of objective experience, and often finds
herself in both places at once; the child is sensitive and self-doubtful
about her ability to perceive, understand and imaginatively represent
the reality of the external world; she is often frustrated and insecure,
as well,in her attempts to discover new forms for her changing
subjective experience and its place in that external world.

According to Smith, surrealist form, as opposed to abstract form (child)
or realist form (adult), has a special significance for this age group:
surrealist form affords preadolescent children a potent means of
expression to represent the ambiguity and constantly changing nature of
their experience. Hence, for this age group, it is the most potent form
for both the expression and perception of subjective content.

In the surreal Barbie, we have the explicit exaggeration of the female
sexual parts accompanied by the dimunition of the parts which signify
mobility. This is targeted toward a group of girls who, in this "normal"
phase of development, are ultrasensitive to surrealistic content.