A light-hearted survey course that I, Alexis Clements, put together for my former work colleagues upon the occasion of our weekly beer drinking celebration. Some of the links are dead (I apologize in advance for that), but some people seem to enjoy this, so I've left it up. Click here to return to my homepage.

A Brief Survey of Artistic Representations of Social Interaction:
From the Caves of Lascaux to the Halls of CIW

Unit 5 - That's Not Art

Excerpted from Barbie: In the Spotlight, written by Marie Morreale, published by Golden Books, Inc.
N o credit given for costume design, set design, animation of lifeless plastic figures, etc.

Since last week's unit focused on gatherings of men in art, this week we will consider gatherings of women.

In this particular work we find limitless critiques of the role of women in society. This work, excerpted from a short, illustrated/animated storybook for children, at first strikes the viewer as being quite transparent, facile even, but I challenge you to look a bit harder.

While this piece is not what one typically would consider a "work of art" in the traditional sense, it has all the makings of one. For instance, the suggestion of action and movement through the use of a carefully constructed design or structure, the employment of some creative media to convey an image or meaning (here the media is a melange of cinematic, animatronic, and theatrical), a commentary on society (whether negative, positive, ironic, or not), and most importantly, the suggestion of a dialogue with the audience (presumably young girls, aged 3-7).

To those who would say of this piece, "That's not art," or those among you who would say of Barbie, "That's not a woman," I challenge you to look a bit further, to stretch your own acceptance of the term 'art' as far as this piece stretches definitions that it seems to want to elucidate.

Related Links:
The official Barbie webpage.

A webpage devoted to Aqua (the music group that did that song"I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world...).

The MOMA webpage for the Cindy Sherman exhibition, 1997 (please make a note of the sponsor listing near the bottom of the page).

A webpage devoted to a group of female artists who embrace, among other things, irony and non-traditional approaches to art.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21, photographic print, 1978.
Collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York.