Artist Duo Drift Embraces ‘Barbie Mania’ With Its New Sculpture Made Out of Deconstructed Doll Parts

The work forms part of the duo's ongoing 'Materialism' series.

DRIFT, Materialism Barbie (2023). Courtesy of the artists

The artist duo Drift has deconstructed Barbie, melting her down and reassembling her as a new small-scale work, just ahead of the release of Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated Barbie film, which hits theaters July 21.

Drift, found by Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn, shared footage on Instagram of the creative process behind the work, titled Materialism Barbie.

The video begins with Barbie’s disembodied head in a plastic bag, callously labeled “vinyl compound,” before the artists slice her legs apart with a knife to Dua Lipa’s upbeat “Dance The Night” from the upcoming film’s soundtrack.

The artists are seen putting Barbie’s body parts on a scale to weigh them then arranging the materials, molded into rectangular blocks, onto a white surface for installation in a shadow box frame.


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A post shared by DRIFT (@studio.drift)

“Barbie mania has taken over the world in the last 12 months, with anticipation for the new film reigniting this cultural icon,” Drift co-founder and artist Ralph Nauta said in emailed remarks to Artnet News.

“An element of our ‘Materialism’ series is experimenting with themes surrounding nostalgia. And who didn’t grow up playing with, aspiring to be, or even ripping the heads off their Barbie dolls? This artwork explores the phenomenon of the toy which marked a generation.”

With the Instagram post, the duo cheekily said: “As part of our ‘Materialism’ artwork series, we deconstructed the iconic toy and can confirm: life in plastic is still fantastic.”

Drift listed the materials for the artwork as “PPE, ABS, Saran (PVDC), PP, LDPE, nylon vinyl, PVC, polyester, LDPE, epoxy and solvent-based paints” in order from the largest to smallest amount raw materials.

Drift, Materialism Barbie, 2023. Courtesy of the artists.

The duo has made an edition of five works with two artist proofs, each of which measure 400 by 400 by 75 mm—a noticeably small dimension for Drift. The Dutch collective is typically known for making large-scale choreographed sculptures and kinetic installations, such as the use of drones to “rebuild” the Sagrada Famila in Barcelona.

But, the duo has recently turned to what they called an “ongoing research project” into materialism that explores how people interact with the everyday manmade objects that surround them.

“The work calls for contemplation on how we deal with the raw materials at our disposal,” Louise Snouck Hurgronje, a representative for the artists, said in an emailed statement.

“Everyday products such as cars, pencils, or watches have been reduced to the exact quantity of the specific raw materials from which they are made, shown in the form of rectangular blocks.”


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