Canadian artist Marina Bychkova artfully juxtaposes powerful social issues with the innocence of dolls, to stunning effect…
“I think dolls have huge potential for exploring themes of social injustice. Juxtaposing the ugly realities of life with this really pretty art form of dolls, can be a very effective way to communicate” says the artist.
While covering very human topics such as domestic violence, breast cancer, pregnancy and marriage, Marina’s dolls also represent different cultures, religions and races beautifully.
A creation time of anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 years depending on the intricacy of the doll, outfit or theme, allows Marina to sell these stunning creations for hundreds of thousands of dollars ($Canadian).
Most interestingly, she feels retaining the dolls sexuality is an important part of challenging the way we view the female form, confronting our discomfort, or not, at combining bare bodies, real-life issues and a mass consumed ‘toy’.
“I think that nude dolls create a bigger impact than costume dolls, because it makes us confront our sexuality and vulnerability.”
She points out how popular dolls are often depicted without sexual organs, representing them as asexual, leading to body issues and shame for girls when internalising this against their own natural form.
There has been other developments in the press surrounding dolls’ bodies this year, with Barbie manufacturer Mattel announcing in January 3 new body types to be added to their range – a curvy, petite and tall shape – complete with varying eye, hair and skin colours.
This change, as well as Bychkova’s thought-provoking work, lead us to imagine a much brighter future for our young girls, with an increased sense of pride and contentment in their bodies, from much earlier on. For those of us who grew up with traditional Barbie and the sexually diluted/censored dolls we are now used to, perhaps we must continue to clamber back a much needed sense of satisfaction in our own skin, and do our best to rectify the damage already done, for ourselves, for our girls.
by Ruth Schwalb