She is an icon! She is a role model for generations of young girls! Always good-looking, politically correct. Yes that’s Barbie! We have always known that she has a dark side! Mariel Clayton, who was born in South Africa and now live in Canada, is an artist who shows us this side of Barbie. His pictures are incredible and full of little details.
You must look back several times to see everything. The interview was published in our HONK! Divas Issue
KALTBLUT: When did you meet her the first time in your life? And how to you came up with the idea to show her darkside?
Mariel: I don’t remember when I got my first Barbie! I think I must have been 6 or 7 years old. I remember it was the ‘Peaches and Cream’ Barbie doll. I’m intrigued by sociopathy and the whole outer facade/inner workings concept and how the two don’t always correspond. Barbie, as the ultimate stereotypical feminine icon just seems to lend herself to an alternate portrayal.
I think because she has been idolized as the epitome of everything that is ‘good’ about being female, being sweet and docile and taciturn etc etc. She has been sanitised to the point where she has absolutely no pesonallity whatsoever, so she just seemed to be the perfect model to explore the idea of this hidden evil.
KALTBLUT: Is Barbie a diva for you?
Mariel: I guess so – I think of the word ‘Diva’ as having a negative connotation though, someone who is bossy and demanding and spoiled. Someone who treats people badly because they believe they are better. I think there may be a part of Barbie that implies that.
KALTBLUT: Every single picture is amazing! And so much is going on there, the set, the decoration, every single piece. I quess it needs days to do all this. How long do you work on one picture?
Mariel: It’s tough to say! It absolutely depends on the complexity of the piece, and whether I need to make anything for it. For a regular ‘Homicide Barbie’ shot, it usually takes about a minimum 5 hours or so, to set everything up. While I am composing a shot, I constantly stop to look through my camera and make sure everything is lining up the same way through the lens ( I learnt this the hard way, your perspective when you’re sitting at a table is not the same as a camera view). If it’s any of the ‘Hystoria’ pieces – those took a lot longer, about 10 – 15 hours or more.
For those I had to make some of the props, costumes etc. It’s hard to say exactly the length of time, because I’m not really paying attention. With most of them I also have to stop, go to work ( cursed day job) sleep etc….
KALTBLUT: My favourite pictures are the one where Barbie is having sex. And also there the details are great. Where do you get the dildos etc from? Is Barbie a sex symbol?
Mariel: I make the little dildos by hand using polymer clay. I don’t see Barbie as a sex symbol at all – she looks nothing like a ‘normal’ human female. That sort of body isn’t even found in nature. She is a representation of what companies THINK women should aspire to look like, but the women who try to make themselves look like Barbie… are extremely unatractive and ‘fake’ looking.
KALTBLUT: Did you have any trouble with „Mattel“ the company who owns Barbie?
Mariel: So far I haven’t hear anything from Mattel… I’d like to keep it that way!!! Mattel tends to sue people who don’t ‘play nicely’ with their toys.
KALTBLUT: What will you do in the future with your doll-photography? Is there more work coming like this?
Mariel: I started out doing this as a hobby, and I will keep doing it as a hobby – as long as I keep getting the ideas I will keep making the pictures!
KALTBLUT: Can you pay your bills from your photography work? Or do you have to do something else for living?
Mariel: I work full-time as a travel agent – that’s how I pay the bills! I make a little money selling prints – and with that I usually buy more dolls or miniatures. I don’t know if this would ever become something I could do as a living, it would be great though – but I’m not holding my breath.