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Barbie. The Icon. A bad exhibition in Rome

Is the exhibition “Barbie. The Icon” really worthy?

I don’t want to talk about the exhibition traditionally organised at the Vittoriano, or about the lack of good exhibition in Rome during the summer. But “Barbie. The Icon” is a bad one. Seriously.

Cet article est disponible en Français.

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in italiano.

Cet article est disponible en Français.

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in italiano.

Rome and Paris. A comparison.

At the same time of the exibition in Rome, in Paris another exhibition on Barbie is on. At the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. I honestly have no doubt about the good quality that. Maybe the good location could be a plus? I couldn’t visit the french version, but by comparing both the official websites, the gap it clear.

Barbie quote

By checking the related pages on www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr it is quite decent, while specifying its mission, on www.ilvittoriano.com only few words are dedicated to the exhibit, with similar contents to the french website, but in a really bad way. 

(in this video the exhibition in Paris)

It could have been an interesting exhibition.

Il catalogo della mostra di Roma
Il catalogo della mostra di Roma

The parisian museum offers some abstract from the official catalogue, important to clarify that the exhibition is not only about dolls. Conversely, the italian version try in any possible way to confirm its real spirit: an exhibition for very young girls, or for melancholic teenagers, where the colour pink and vaporous dresses are triumphant. No way to raise up. And the few didactical panels aren’t absolutely useless.

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Babie tavoloThen, if a possibility to give a good message were still possible, it wrecks on the pinky desk, where any woman-girl is able to write a private message to the most famous pinky doll.

An icon, a symbol. Only a stereotype.

In could have been a way to enlight the undervalued aspect of a symbol, of an icon that grew up and changed itself, as the women that it represents are changed, a real pillar of the Pop culture. As the didacrtical panels state:

In 56 years Barbie has had one hundred eighty careers, proof of her enduring motto: I can be .  Thanks to the international career collection, Barbie’s philosophy has inspired and encouraged at least three generations of young girls to dream, discover, and explore a world where everything can come true. Barbie has been a volunteer nurse, a UNICEF ambassador, a member of the Armed Forces, to mention just a few jobs she has held. 

Why when leaving the exhibition hall one only can think that Barbie has always simply been fashion girl?

Barbie’s wardrobe. Craftmen and stylists at her service.

In this historical period, when is required that the youger generations understand the importance of being indipendent and ready to any possible joba nd profession, in Rome women are simply shallow people; for them working is something funny and temporary, because the real purpose is wearing the (amazing!) dresses from the most important stylists. That way the most visited side of the exhibition is the long catwalk, where the doll parades dressed with hundreds versions of itself: Valentino, Chanel, Versace, Dolce e Gabbana, Fendi…

If adequately contextualized, this section could have been truly interesting, because it reflects the evolution of fashion during the last decades. That way, Barbie would be shown as it is a real icon, able to hire the whole fashion world to realize its dresses.

This way, Barbie-model, Barbie-traveller (wearing the typical dresses of each country), and Barbie-as-pop-icons, would have been perfect for a Museum of Decorative Arts; this doll is an indispensable symbol of the popular culture, which appears in several movies, sit-coms, books, songs…

Barbie and Ken. A love story and a marriage.

But it totally failed, and the degradation of women is mode on.

Leaving the exhibition, the only feeling can be that Barbie, as like the women that represents, is an airy creature, and its only ambition is marry the boyfrind Ken (with appearence and dresses taken from the Duke and the Duchesse of Cambridge, William and Catherine Middleton, ça va sans dire!) and living together in their huge countryhouse with a horse, a camper and a yatch. Wearing wonderful dresses, everyday.

Exit through the giftshop

The Barbie behind the times, symbol of a woman that all long the Sixties rejects to join the usual stereotype that wants a woman-mother, and a life that seems written for her; that woman that is now free to travel, to choose her profession, everything is finally possible for her. Where is this model? If you are looking for it, take a flight to Paris, not for Rome.

In Rome, we only can nostalgically watch all the dolls we owned in the past, dreaming to stay on the most wanted catwalks, skip a stupid working life (who needs to work when you are intended to marry the King-to-be of UK?), cry for a Royal Marriage (William and Kate’s or Grace Kelly’s). And finally exit through the giftshop, maybe after buying the pinky catalogue of the exhibition. At that point it would be the moment to reflect about generations of women that fighted for a women’s empowerment and for a life faraway from the stereotypes. And about their failure, as this exhibition established.

Barbie ralph Lauren

What does this exhibition needs? An official soundtrack! My suggestion is “Love me like you do” di Ellie Goulding

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Info:

The exhibition will be at Vittoriano in Rome until October, 30th, 2016. The regular entrance ticket is 12 euro. For any addictional information click here

 

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