Untitled (Barbie in Coke Bottle)

This piece is conceptual and features a Barbie doll and Coke bottle.

The Barbie Doll and Coca-Cola are two of the biggest icons of the consumer society in which we live: For over 50 years, their images have conjured up a sort of idealized lifestyle. Thanks to advertisements and various promotional gimmicks, we grow up aspiring to that ‘look’. This piece pokes fun at the absurdity of the reality created for us by those advertisers…. and our acceptance of that reality.

The piece looks like an odd promotion for ice cold Coca-Cola, or, perhaps, for Barbie’s latest adventure in winter wonderland. The clothes I made for her help to create this impression, as does the white substance she is standing in.

A closer inspection, however, reveals that reality isn’t what it seems to be: The “snow” is refined sugar; the amount — 1 ¾ cups — is the amount of sugar this size of Coke contains. Converted, that is about 11 teaspoons per can of coke you get from the vending machine.

If you look closely at the label on the Coke bottle, you’ll see I’ve altered it to contain facts I think might of interest to the consumer, such as information about sugar and its harmful effects on the human body. It also gives information about Barbie and her astonishing measurements — measurements that statistically occur in about 1 in 100,000 women, and then is possible only if a very strict diet and exercise regime were followed…. and certainly not if Coke were included.

The label contains a miniature reproduction of Andy Warhol’s painting, Green Coca-Cola Bottle (1962), which was appropriated and placed where the scan bar ordinarily is, signifying that this is a work of art and not a consumer item.

I think that one of the best things about doing a conceptual piece is to be able to pique the viewer’s interest. For this piece, a lot of people have been curious about one thing and ask me about it all the time…. it has nothing to do at all with its concept: What they’re really want to know how I got Barbie in the Bottle!