Pool Paolini y Marianela Perelli are the artists behind the controversial “Barbie, The Plastic Religion” exhibit which will be presented in Buenos Aires starting October 11. The creators thought, “If there’s a Barbie doctor, a teacher and a police officer, why shouldn’t there be a Virgin of Luján Barbie?” and therefore created 33 Barbie and Ken dolls adapted to religious figures from Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. “In a world where we’re rewarded for thinking, feeling and acting all the same, Marianela and Pool set themselves apart by rebelling. Through humor they highlight a fictional, historical, religious, political and universe where their elders are trapped,” says their website.
One of the most controversial was the “Barbie Difunta Correa” which enraged the local authorities of San Juan, where the figures sanctuary remains. “This is so out of place, this is a figure of faith which we care for very much and it is why we patented her image and name years ago,” Daniel Rojas told local media. He concluded by saying if things were up to him, he would definitely sue the couple, which has already been contacted by the authorities.
The artists told BBC Mundo, they certainly knew their work would cause controversy and attract harsh criticism, but they did not expect it to come from local authorities. Pools also explained they have “nothing against religion” and were even careful about respecting all beliefs. The pair is working on Islam figurines and plans to skip representing Muhammad, as this religion condemns representing the prophet.
Both artists identified themselves as followers of the lowbrow art movement and had worked before on representing controversial figures like soccer player Diego Maradona, Juan Domingo Perón and Evita, one of President Cristina Fernández pregnant from “the republic”, one of Leopoldo Galtieri and even one of Pope Francis, but this is the first time their entire exhibit is “devoted” to religion.