Barbies in burqas challenge attitudes

RE-INVENTING Barbie dolls with burqas is a bold move for an aspiring artist given the current climate, but Perth College student Miranda Fox says she’s not having a go at Islam, just consumerism and notions of assimilation.

Fox was one of two students from the college chosen to go in the Year 12 Perspectives exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA, which opens January 28.

One of Fox’s Burqie™ dolls parades a Targot-branded burqa. She’s not opposed to the controversial headwear, but would hate to see them appearing in major stores simply because they’re profitable.

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• Perth College’s Miranda Fox and her three “Burquie’s” for the Art gallery of WA.

She says a gun-wielding Ned Kelly barbie in a plated burqa exposes hypocritical attitudes about violence in Australian culture, while a third featuring images of Uluru is meant to make people reflect on their own status as an immigrant.

Ms Fox says she’s only been researching Islam for a year and isn’t sure how Muslims will react to the artworks, but hopes they will provoke discussion and make people question whether immigrants should “blend in” before they’re accepted.

“It’s just to illustrate that we shouldn’t make judgements on other people. We can’t assume that they’re one thing when they’re not just because we don’t understand”, Ms Fox said.

“It’s meant to be so over-the-top that people go ‘woah’. I don’t want people to take away from it that I’m attacking the burqa at all … this is an attack on our culture more than anything.”

In contrast, Melissa Clements’ artwork celebrates Western culture with a nod to Renaissance painter Caravaggio, whose use of the “ciaroscuro” technique was formative in Baroque painting.

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

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